Yoon Suk-yeol, before his inauguration as South Korea’s president, stressed that restoring bilateral ties with Japan was one of his highest priorities.

“Bilateral relations with Japan also require a rethink, and Seoul should recognize the strategic importance of normalizing ties with Tokyo,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs during the presidential campaign.

Repairing the relationship — which reached a nadir under former President Moon Jae-in as disputes over historical issues led to export restrictions, informal boycotts and threats to sever defense and intelligence links — is part of a broader strategy of raising South Korea’s global presence. And that is an outcome in the interest of both South Korea and Japan (as well as the United States).