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Spy chief in Japan to discuss thorny issues

National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won seen at the parliamentary audit of his agency on Nov. 3. Yonhap
National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won seen at the parliamentary audit of his agency on Nov. 3. Yonhap

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service chief Park Jie-won is in Japan to discuss bilateral issues with top officials, local media reported Monday.

According to reports, Park arrived in Japan on Monday to discuss outstanding issues, including the matter of Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during Japan’s occupation of the country in the first half of the 20th century.

After the Korean Supreme Court sided with the victims, ruling that concerned Japanese firms were liable for damages, Seoul-Tokyo relations deteriorated rapidly with Japan imposing tougher export control regulations on Korea. This sparked an anti-Japan consumer campaign here, and some key industrial materials normally imported from Japan were replaced with locally developed alternatives.

Park is reportedly set to meet Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Hiroaki Takizawa, the director of the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office. Park is the highest-level government official to visit Japan since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office earlier this year.

Park reportedly has a long-standing relationship with Nikai, who is said to have played a critical role in Suga rising to his current position. Park and Nikai worked together to increase tourism and flights between the two countries in 2000, when they respectively served as culture minister and transport minister.

In addition, members of the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Association are set to begin a three-day trip to Japan on Thursday. The delegates, led by ruling Democratic Party Rep. Kim Jin-pyo, are set to meet with their Japanese counterparts and hope to meet with Suga.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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