South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a ceremony of the 104th anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement Day against Japanese colonial rule, in Seoul, March 1, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
SEOUL - South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday that cooperation with Japan is vital in protecting global supply chains, calling on both countries not to snarl relations in domestic politics.
Yoon made the remarks in a written interview with international media, including Reuters, as he prepares to depart for Tokyo on Thursday for a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the first such visit in 12 years.
The planned trip comes after South Korea announced last week its companies would compensate victims of forced labor under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-1945.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said it was time for the people of the two countries to move forward "rather than confront over the past", adding that Japan has expressed "deep remorse and heartfelt apology in regard to its past colonial rule through the position of its previous governments"
"We cannot afford to waste time while leaving strained Korea-Japan relations unattended," Yoon said.
Some of the victims who were forced to work under Japanese colonial rule have rejected the government's compensation plan, potentially complicating Seoul's efforts to end the diplomatic spat.
But Yoon said it was time for the people of the two countries to move forward "rather than confront over the past", adding that Japan has expressed "deep remorse and heartfelt apology in regard to its past colonial rule through the position of its previous governments".
"What matters is to ensure that such positions and behavior continue unwaveringly," Yoon said, urging both countries to "guard against bilateral relations being exploited for domestic politics".
With economic cooperation expected to be high on the agenda during his trip, Yoon said stronger ties between the two countries would help global supply chains.
South Korea, the United States and Japan must further strengthen security cooperation, Yoon said, adding that he expected GSOMIA, an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, to be "invigorated" as the two countries restore trust.
South Korea has been conditionally maintaining the pact, which is intended to help the two countries share information.
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