TOKYO – Japan's prime minister said Monday he is seeking to hold talks with South Korea's leader in Japan next month to step up cooperation amid rising tension on the Korean peninsula.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a gathering of Japanese and South Korean lawmakers the two countries were trying to arrange a summit and a visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-back "likely" in mid-December.
"It depends whether President Lee can leave his country" under the current circumstances, Kan's spokesman Noriyuki Shikata said.
Japanese media reported Tokyo and Seoul were arranging a summit in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto from Dec. 18-19. The leaders were expected to discuss economic partnership, North Korea and other bilateral and regional issues.
During Monday's meeting, Kan again condemned North Korea's deadly artillery barrage last week on a South Korean island and reiterated his support for Seoul.
"Indiscriminate attacks on civilians is a barbaric act that should not be tolerated," Kan said. "We will cooperate with South Korea, as well as the United States, and the three of us together will decisively counter North Korea's reckless and outrageous acts."
Japan hopes to return to South Korea historical documents and artifacts that it confiscated during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula — a deal the two leaders agreed to during a Pacific Rim summit earlier this month.
Under that agreement signed by Kan and Lee at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Yokohama, Japan will return 1,205 volumes of Korean archives brought to Japan during its 1910-1945 colonization.