Japan foreign minister lays wreath at Israel holocaust memorial

Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono lays a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, on Dec 25, 2017. Kono is on an official visit to Israel.
Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono lays a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, on Dec 25, 2017. Kono is on an official visit to Israel. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday (Dec 25) laid a wreath at Israel's Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and called for stronger ties between the two countries.

He wrote in the memorial's guest book that he prayed "from the bottom of my heart that such a tragedy will never be repeated".

At a joint press conference with President Reuvin Rivlin, he said Japan "regards Israel as a country full of talent, not just a state of technology, but humanity, art and science".

"I hope to increase the exchange of people between (the) two countries," he added.

Rivlin said he was "very concerned" about North Korea and that "a crisis on one side of the globe can influence the other side of the globe".

In a statement, Rivlin's spokesman said Kono voiced hope that Israel and Japan would establish direct air links "sometime soon".

Kono was set to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas later Monday.