Sept. 16 (UPI) -- South Korea's president congratulated newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga while proposing improved bilateral ties amid a wide range of political and economic disputes.
President Moon Jae-in sent a letter to Suga outlining his hopes for a "future-oriented relationship," Seoul's presidential Blue House said, Yonhap reported Wednesday.
"The [South Korean] government will actively cooperate with Prime Minister Suga and the new cabinet to prudently overcome problems of the past," said spokesman Kang Min-seok.
Kang said Moon hopes to strengthen a mutually beneficial and pragmatic cooperation in the areas that pertain to the economy, culture and civil exchange.
The South Korean president also said he is always ready for dialogue with Japan to discuss outstanding issues. The two countries have not resolved a dispute over a South Korean Supreme Court decision ordering Japanese companies to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during World War II.
In 2019, relations reached a new low after Japan restricted exports of chemicals needed in South Korea's technology sector. Angry South Korean protesters destroyed Japanese products and launched a "No Japan" campaign, urging the public to boycott products ranging from Japanese beer to UNIQLO merchandise.
On Wednesday, Kang said Moon described Japan as Seoul's "closest friend, geographically and culturally," according to Money Today. The two countries share basic values and strategic interests, Moon said.
"We look forward to a positive response from the Japanese side," Kang said.
South Korea has shown interest in preparing a trilateral summit with neighbors China and Japan. A meeting could provide an opportunity for Moon to meet with Suga, reports say.
Moon has kept up communication with Tokyo since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to resign, citing health concerns.
Moon and Abe, who met six times at brief summits, never resolved outstanding disputes. Moon did send his condolences expressing his support for Abe on Wednesday, wishing him recovery, Yonhap reported.