South Korean PM Lee Nak-yon set for highest-level visit to Japan next week since export curbs

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon is scheduled to visit Japan from Oct 22-24, 2019.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon is scheduled to visit Japan from Oct 22-24, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's prime minister plans to visit Japan next week in what would be the highest-level trip since Japan imposed export curbs in a deepening trade and diplomatic row, the Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday (Oct 13).

Lee Nak-yon, whose trip is scheduled for Oct 22-24, will attend Japanese Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony on behalf of President Moon Jae-in, Yonhap said, citing presidential officials.

Lee is likely to hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which would mark the highest-level dialogue since tension flared up last year over the issue of Japan's wartime use of South Korean forced labour, Yonhap said.

"We hope his visit would help improve relations," an unidentified presidential official was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

Moon's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Relations between the neighbours are arguably at their lowest ebb since they normalised ties in 1965, after South Korea's Supreme Court last year ordered two Japanese companies to compensate some wartime labourers.

Japan says the issue was settled under a 1965 treaty that normalised ties.

The dispute has since spilled over into trade and security, with Japan slapping export curbs and South Korea scrapping a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact.