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Japan after Abe

Suga urges focus on future in letter to South Korea's Moon

Japanese PM responds to congratulatory message from Seoul

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives for a Memorial Day ceremony at the national cemetery in Daejeon on June 6.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in has received a letter from new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, a spokesperson for the presidential Blue House said Monday.

The letter called South Korea an important neighbor and expressed hope for a relationship that looks to the future, according to the spokesperson.

The message comes at a time of friction between the East Asian countries over such past grievances as compensation for World War II-era Korean laborers.

The South Korean president received Suga's letter on Saturday, according to the Blue House. Suga also had his first telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday.

The spokesperson said an announcement was not made until Monday because of scheduling reasons, noting that Saturday marked the second anniversary of Moon's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.

Moon sent Suga a letter Sept. 16 -- the day the new prime minister took office -- offering to work together to advance the bilateral relationship.

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