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SEOUL: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with South Korean lawmakers and business leaders in Seoul on Monday to discuss potential bilateral cooperation as he wrapped up the first visit by a Japanese leader in 12 years.

Kishida and the leaders of various business groups hoped the meeting, which saw talks about building a resilient supply chain and promoting industrial cooperation in cutting-edge technology, would strengthen economic ties between the two countries, according to Japan’s foreign ministry.

“I would like to strengthen the relationship I have with (South Korean) President Yoon and join forces with him to forge a new era,” Kishida told reporters in Seoul after meeting with South Korean lawmakers at his hotel.

Japan PM Kishida visits Seoul to forge closer ties amid North Korea threats

Kishida told South Koreans on Sunday his “heart hurts” when he thinks of suffering during Japanese colonial rule of South Korea. His remark was seen as a nod to historical disputes that have soured relations between the two U.S. allies but fell short of offering a new apology.

He arrived in South Korea on Sunday following South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s trip to Tokyo in March where they sought to close a chapter on the historical disputes that have dominated Japan-South Korea relations for decades.

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