New South Korean Ambassador to Japan Kang Chang-il speaks to the press at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap)
New South Korean Ambassador to Japan Kang Chang-il said Friday that Seoul has a "firm" will to normalize relations with Tokyo, as he departed for the country amid a protracted row over wartime history and trade.
"The Moon government has a firm will to normalize relations between South Korea and Japan, and the president also expressed the will during a New Year's press conference," he told reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.
"I plan to relay this message to the Japanese side," he added.
Noting long-running historical spats between the two countries, Kang said his heart is "a little heavy."
"But I will seek to disentangle them one by one," he said.
Seoul has been seeking to mend ties with Tokyo as new US President Joe Biden has stressed his foreign policy focus on strengthening regional democratic alliances to shore up America's leadership.
Kang, a former four-term ruling party lawmaker, will replace Nam Gwan-pyo who returned home earlier this month after having served in the post since May 2019. (Yonhap)