President Moon Jae-in and the leader of a partner party of Japan's ruling coalition vowed Thursday to improve South Korea-Japan relationship and expand personnel exchanges, the presidential office said.
Moon asked Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the New Komeito, a partner in the ruling coalition with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, "to make efforts to widen human exchanges through various opportunities including the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics (in South Korea)," during their meeting earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae said.
They pledged to beef up the two countries' collaboration in hosting the upcoming Olympics in South Korea next year as well as the Summer Olympics to be hosted by Tokyo in 2020.
"Let us work together to make the PyeongChang Olympics as well as the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as ones that open up peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia," Moon told Yamaguchi.
The Japanese politician also vowed Tokyo's cooperation on the same front.
Yamaguchi also passed on a handwritten letter from Prime Minister Abe to Moon at the end of the meeting.
The presidential official said Abe asked Moon in the letter to visit Japan "as soon as possible." The Japanese leader also called for a meeting between the state leaders of South Korea, Japan and China at the earliest time possible.
Moon said in response that the trilateral summit could be held in January at the latest, if not in December, according to the officials.
The president, however, dismissed the possibility of a trilateral joint military exercise with the U.S. and Japan.
"It's essential to manage the situation stably so as not to escalate tension excessively," Moon told the Japanese politician, virtually ruling out the idea proposed by Japan.
Yamaguchi also expressed the grave anxiety that the Japanese people are feeling over the North Korean missile threat after North Korea has flown its missiles over Japan in its two missile launch tests this year. "It's important that the international community gets united and puts pressure on North Korea in order to change its attitude," he said. (Yonhap)