“I think dialog between Japan and North Korea should be resumed,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in told Japanese newspaper Yomiuri on Tuesday.
He said Tokyo and Pyongyang should normalize relations as part of broader efforts to contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“If Japan-North Korea relations are normalized, that would greatly contribute to peace and security in Northeast Asia beyond the Korean Peninsula,” he said, in written answers to questions submitted by the newspaper.
Moon said he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un both shared a mutual desire for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
Moon and Kim met in a historic summit in late April. During that meeting, the two leaders signed a joint declaration expressing their interest in the common goal of denuclearization.
The summit between the Korean leaders became possible after Kim in January expressed interest in dialog with the South. Diplomatic meetings were held, and arrangements were soon made for the summit.
“From now on, based on our deep mutual trust, we’ll make bold steps toward peace and prosperity, and unification,” Moon told Yomiuri, referring to himself and Kim.
South Korea and Japan are regional allies. For decades, they both have been reliant on the United States for protection against a perceived threat from the North.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned in the past that dialog for the sake of dialog would be purposeless, and diplomatic efforts should be aimed at reaching “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.”
North Korea has had an active military nuclear program and has tested several nuclear bombs. Recently, and in the midst of diplomacy with the South, Kim said he would be suspending the nuclear program and missile tests as a sign of goodwill.
Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang of China — North Korea’s main ally — is scheduled to meet with Moon and Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday. North Korea had been expected to be high on the agenda but a senior Chinese diplomat said last week Pyongyang would not be a focus of the talks.