S.Korean President Yoon to start visit to Japan on Thursday

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is to arrive in Japan on Thursday for a summit with Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

The two-day visit is Yoon's first trip to Japan since taking office in May last year. He will be accompanied by his wife, Kim Keon-hee.

After his arrival, Yoon will meet with officials of the Korean Residents Union in Japan, or Mindan, over lunch. He will then hold talks with Kishida.

The South Korean side apparently wants to improve bilateral relations amid an increasingly severe security environment, in which North Korea is accelerating its nuclear and missile development. Seoul hopes to resume mutual visits by the Japanese and South Korean leaders. Seoul also believes a better relationship will contribute to strengthening collaboration among Japan, the United States and South Korea.

Kishida and Yoon will also have a dinner to deepen their mutual trust.

On Friday, the South Korean president will meet with business leaders from the two countries and give a lecture at a university in Tokyo. He is expected to call for creating future-oriented relations.

The South Korean government recently announced a plan to settle a wartime labor issue with Japan. The plan says a South Korean government-affiliated foundation will pay damages in place of Japanese companies to people who say they or their family members were forced to work for the firms during World War Two. In 2018, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered the Japanese companies to pay compensation to the plaintiffs.

In South Korea, some people are opposed to the plan. Observers say Yoon wants to ease the criticism by producing results during his visit to Japan.