Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his eagerness Thursday to meet with South Korean President Park Geun Hye to mend bilateral ties strained by territorial disputes and differing views on history.
"There are difficult problems between Japan and South Korea, and because of that we should have a frank exchange of opinions," Abe told a group of visiting South Korean media executives at the outset of their meeting at the prime minister's office.
"I would like to improve bilateral ties and develop them into future-oriented relations," said Abe, who has been unable to hold one-on-one talks with Park since the South Korean leader took office in February 2013.
The South Korean media executives include Song Hee Yong, editor in chief of the Chosun Ilbo daily.
"Through our visit, we found that many Japanese politicians want to see the normalization of South Korea-Japan relations," Song told reporters, adding that he hopes the visit will serve as the start of the normalization process.