Japanese PM Kishida eyes visit to South Korea in 1st half of May

Japanese government officials are arranging a visit by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio to South Korea for talks with President Yoon Suk-yeol, possibly in the first half of May.

Kishida apparently hopes to build on improvements in bilateral relations by resuming so-called shuttle diplomacy between the leaders of the two countries.

Kishida and Yoon agreed in their summit in Tokyo in March to resume such mutual visits for the first time in more than 10 years.

The agreement came after the South Korean government came out with a proposal to settle the wartime labor issue.

Kishida's visit to South Korea may come after he returns from his four-nation African tour that started on Saturday. Arrangements are underway to schedule the visit before the Group of Seven summit in Japan, from May 19 to 21.

If realized, it will be Kishida's first trip to the country since taking office. It will also be the first visit by a sitting Japanese prime minister since Abe Shinzo did so in 2018.

Kishida is apparently considering a return visit soon after Yoon's trip to Japan. He is expected to confirm strengthening bilateral cooperation in security and other fields as North Korea is accelerating its nuclear and missile development.

The leaders are also expected to exchange views on economic security cooperation, including efforts to make semiconductor supply chains stronger, as agreed upon during the March summit.