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Moon rise spells trouble for South Korea-Japan relations

New president's relaxed policy on Pyongyang could add to regional instability

| North Korea
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South Korea President Moon Jae-in arriving at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea May 10   © Reuters

The election of Moon Jae-in as South Korean president has ended a six-month political rollercoaster hallmarked by the impeachment and eventual arrest of former President Park Geun-hye. But Moon's accession to the Blue House will complicate Japan's efforts to establish a positive and forward-looking trajectory in its relations with Seoul.

Moon, who was trained as human rights lawyer, has been critical in the past of Japan's approach to South Korea -- especially under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Moon railed against a landmark 2015 deal on World War II "comfort women" agreed by Abe and the Park government, and appears to have no objection to the erection of a statue representing a comfort woman in front of Japan's consulate in Busan late last year -- a move that stymied a gradual improvement of ties between Japan and South Korea.

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