South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Wednesday that Japan has “transformed from a militaristic aggressor of the past into a partner,” the latest remarks highlighting the leader’s push to improve soured ties with Tokyo amid concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Yoon used a speech commemorating the 104th anniversary of the March 1 protest movement against Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula to say that Japan has become a "partner that shares the same universal values" as South Korea.

“Today, Korea and Japan cooperate on issues of security and economy,” he said. “We also work together to cope with global challenges.”