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Vice minister stresses importance of Seoul-Tokyo relations for regional peace and prosperity

Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho emphasized the importance of bilateral relations between South Korea and Japan on Tuesday to ensure peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, while expressing support for Tokyo's push for talks with North Korea.

Suh made the remark at a forum in Tokyo that was held amid escalating tensions between the two neighbors after Japan's recent move to curb exports of its high-tech parts to South Korea, according to a text of his address provided by the ministry.

Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho (Yonhap)
Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho (Yonhap)

"Relations between South Korea and Japan should be developed in a way that they will work together for the sake of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia," Suh said in a keynote speech.

"In the process of building peace on the Korean Peninsula, it is surely necessary for Japan and North Korea to normalize their relations," he said. "The (South) Korean government expresses its support for the Japanese government's stance to seek unconditional dialogue with North Korea."

Suh said that the recent Panmunjom meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump served as a chance to reaffirm their shared objectives and create a momentum for dialogue that he said should not be missed.

He noted that South Korea will play a role in helping narrow differences between the North and the US. He also said that Seoul will work hard to advance inter-Korean relations in a way that will contribute to the denuclearization and peace process on the Korean Peninsula. 

Suh's trip to Japan came amid escalating tension following Tokyo's move to impose curbs on its exports of some high-tech parts earlier this month.

It is seen as a retaliation against a series of South Korean court decisions ordering Japanese companies to compensate Koreans for forced labor during World War II. Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910-1945.

On the sidelines of the forum, Suh is scheduled to meet a Japanese government official during his stay until Thursday. A local daily earlier reported that he is to meet Kenji Kanasugi, director-general at the Japanese foreign ministry's Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau.

A unification ministry official declined to comment on who, when and where the meeting will take place in an apparent bid to make it a low-key event amid a brewing trade row. He said the meeting will focus on peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)