South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol to visit Japan, 1st such visit in over a decade

First such visit in 12 years.

Keyla Supharta | March 09, 2023, 06:21 PM

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South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee will visit Japan from Mar. 16 to 17, after Seoul announced a plan to end long-standing dispute with Japan over wartime forced labour, The Japan Times reported.

The two-day visit is scheduled at Tokyo's invitation. Yoon will be holding a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Yoon will be the first South Korean president to visit Japan in 12 years.

Important milestone: Yoon

"[The visit] will be an important milestone in the improvement and development of relations between South Korea and Japan," Yoon's office said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The meeting is expected to deepen bilateral ties, which had soured over the years over wartime labour disputes.

“With President Yoon’s visit to Japan, we hope that Japan-South Korea relations will advance further, on the basis of the friendly and cooperative relationship that has existed since the normalisation of diplomatic relations,” said Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno at a briefing.

With Yoon seeking to mend the relationship with Japan, expectations are high for the two countries to bolster bilateral ties in various fields, putting historic disputes behind them.

Mending the relationship

On Monday (Mar. 6), South Korea announced it will compensate Korean victims forced to work for Japanese companies during World War II, The Korea Herald reported.

This is a shift from Seoul's previous move of demanding Japanese firms to pay compensation.

Officials on both sides considered the proposal a breakthrough.

Howevervictims and opponents of the plan in South Korea criticised the move, saying it deflected responsibility from Japan.

One of the three surviving victims rejected the plan, calling it a "beggarly solution", Yonhap reported.

Protesters held a demonstration outside South Korea's foreign ministry to criticise the plan the same day it was announced.

Top image via Jung Yeon-Je - Pool/Getty Images