New Optimism for Japan-South Korea Relations, but Sources of Tension Remain

New Optimism for Japan-South Korea Relations, but Sources of Tension Remain

TOKYO -- Recent reports that Japanese lawmakers have been discussing the feasibility of constructing a 200-kilometer tunnel linking Japan with the Korean peninsula encapsulates as well as anything the current optimism over relations between the two countries.

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited Seoul to attend the inauguration of incoming South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, with Fukuda taking the symbolic honor of being the first foreign leader to be received by the new president.

At the summit, the two leaders agreed to restart the regular top level shuttle diplomacy that was agreed under former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2004, but which was abandoned the following year after Koizumi visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan's war dead.

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