Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended South Korean President Park Geun-hye's speech at an annual gathering of global political and business leaders in Switzerland Wednesday.
Abe's attendance in Park's speech at this year's meeting of the World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum, drew keen attention because of the possibility of Abe meeting with Park amid badly frayed relations between the two Northeast Asian neighbors.
The Japanese leader was seen listening attentively to the speech in a seat in the far front row and then clapping at the end of a question and answer session that followed the speech. But the two leaders did not meet.
Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been badly strained due to Japan's refusal to address long-running grievances over sexual slavery and other atrocities committed during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and its repeated claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo.
The relations soured further recently after Abe paid respects late last year at a war shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including 14 Class A criminals. Abe was the first Japanese prime minister to visit the shrine in more than seven years.
South Korea and China, which suffered from Japan's aggression in the early 20th century, have long resented visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese leaders, and the latest visit was considered a flagrant insult to Japan's closest neighbors.
Park has shunned a summit with Abe, saying she sees no point unless Japan first takes steps to resolve long-running grievances over colonial-era atrocities, including the sexual slavery of hundreds of thousands of young women, mostly Koreans, for frontline Japanese troops during World War II. (Yonhap News)