Moon calls S.Korea and Japan 'closest neighbors'

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has emphasized that his country and Japan should discuss their differences and work to improve ties. He called the two nations "the closest neighbors."

The South Korean presidential office said Moon met outgoing Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Tomita Koji on Thursday.

Moon described South Korea and Japan as "the most important partners," which should work together for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world.

He stressed that both nations need to talk about bilateral issues and work to swiftly restore constructive relations oriented toward the future.

But the office did not mention whether Moon referred to last week's ruling by a South Korean court. The court ordered the Japanese government to pay damages to 12 plaintiffs, who are among those referred to as wartime comfort women.

The Japanese government says any right to claims was settled completely and finally in 1965, when Japan and South Korea normalized ties.

Moon also handed credentials to South Korea's incoming Ambassador to Japan Kang Chang-il.

The president expressed the hope that Kang will find a way to prevent bilateral differences from affecting the entire relationship between the two countries.

Even though Moon appeared to take the position of recognizing the importance of ties with Japan, analysts say relations between the two countries will remain fraught due to the recent court ruling and other issues surrounding wartime labor.