Moon sends message to Japan’s new emperor

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Moon sends message to Japan’s new emperor

Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a message to new Japanese Emperor Naruhito on Wednesday congratulating him on his accession, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

“President Moon said he congratulates Emperor Naruhito on his accession and looks forward to [the new emperor] continuing the firm footsteps for peace, just like Emperor Akihito did, while remembering the pains of war,” the ministry said in a statement.

Emperor Naruhito officially succeeded the throne from his father, Akihito, on Wednesday.

Moon expressed hope the new emperor will have great interest and affection in the amicable development of Korea-Japan relations, the ministry said.

On Tuesday, President Moon also delivered a message to the former Emperor Akihito in appreciation for his role in developing relations between the two countries, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said.

Akihito, 85, ended his three-decade-long reign on Tuesday following his decision to voluntarily step down due to his health. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, succeeded him the following day.

“While saying the emperor has stressed the significance of keeping the importance of peace during his reign, President Moon expressed his appreciation for [Akihito’s] great contribution in developing the South Korea-Japan relationship,” Kim In-chul, Foreign Ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing. “[Moon] also expressed his expectation that after stepping down, [Akihito] will make efforts for the development of the bilateral relationship.”

The spokesman also said that the Seoul government hopes the two countries’ relations will develop in a future-oriented way under the new emperor.

Akihito’s abdication ends his era, called Heisei, which means achieving peace, and will usher in Naruhito’s new era of Reiwa, which can be translated as order and harmony.

The already frosty relations between the two neighbors have chilled further in recent months amid tensions over Japan’s wartime forced labor and a military spat caused by Tokyo’s claim that a South Korean warship locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese patrol aircraft in December.

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