The leaders of South Korea and Japan are attending ceremonies in their respective capitals marking the 50th anniversary of their countries' resumption of normal ties after World War II.

The visits Monday by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to a Japan-organized event in Seoul and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a South Korea-organized event in Tokyo are small, largely symbolic steps. But they could signal an easing of strained ties between the important U.S. allies.

Many in Seoul are uncomfortable with what's seen as Tokyo's push to whitewash its brutal colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Since taking office in early 2013, Park has not held official one-on-one talks with Abe, although President Barack Obama brought them together for a three-way meeting last year.