Japanese PM to meet with delegation from South Korean leader

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Japanese PM to meet with delegation from South Korean leader

Sources with knowledge of the plan said that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will meet next week with a delegation sent by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to Japan.

The administration of Yoon, who is calling for a future-oriented approach, is calling for a meeting on Monday to give Kishida the chance to hear how the administration of the country would try to improve bilateral ties strained over issues related to wartime history.

Japan maintains that the ball is in South Korea's court to repair relations. The stance is based on the view that the issues of comfort for wartime Korean laborers and compensation for peacetime laborers have already been resolved by bilateral agreements.

Comfort women is a euphemism for women who suffered during World War II under Japan's military brothel system.

Yoon s delegation is expected to visit Japan from Sunday to Thursday for policy consultations with Japanese lawmakers, diplomats and business leaders before he is sworn in on May 10. The team includes diplomatic experts, led by Chung Jin-suk, a member of Yoon's People Power Party.

Kishida and the delegation members may also discuss the possibility of the prime minister attending Yoon's inauguration ceremony next month.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will be meeting with the delegation Monday, while former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga will also sit down for talks, according to the sources.

The lawmakers in the Liberal Democratic Party are divided over whether Kishida should go ahead with meeting the delegation.

Bilateral relations remain frosty over issues stemming from Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in 1910 -- 1945.

Kishida, who was foreign minister at the time of a 2015 agreement that settled the comfort women issue finally and irreversibly, expressed hope to improve ties under the Yoon administration as the bilateral relationship should be healthy. The pact of 2015 is official according to incoming South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, who said that joint efforts by the two nations to recover the honor and dignity of the victims are the most important.

The pact was seriously flawed, sending ties with Japan to the lowest point in years, according to the current government of Moon Jae-in.