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Japan-South Korea rift

South Korea presidential hopeful aims to change attitudes on Japan

Former top prosecutor Yoon Seok-youl appears ready to redefine relationship with Tokyo

Yoon Seok-youl, right, South Korea's former top prosecutor, has roundly criticized President Moon Jae-in's foreign policy as burdened by ideology and divorced from reality. (Source photos by Reuters and Getty Images) 

TOKYO -- The political climate is heating up in South Korea as potential presidential candidates draw their battle lines. The outcome of the March 9 vote for the successor to President Moon Jae-in will go a long way toward defining the political path of the nation for the next five years and will have huge implications for Japan's traditionally prickly relationship with its neighbor.

As presidential hopefuls across the political spectrum announce their candidacies for the single term allowed, one political neophyte has emerged as a potential agent of change for the often-strained ties between Tokyo and Seoul.

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