(dpa) - Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak agreed Monday to strengthen bilateral cooperation on North Korea, economic issues and global warming.
Fukuda and Lee, who arrived in Japan Sunday for a two-day visit, met for the second time since Lee took office in February and were expected to issue a joint statement on a new era of bilateral relations.
"We were able to make a very good start of the 'shuttle diplomacy,'" Fukuda said at a press conference. "We agreed that it was our job to upgrade Japan-South Korea relationship to a mature one."
At their meeting Monday, the two leaders agreed to resume yearly meetings, which had been suspended since 2005 in the wake of former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japanese war dead, including convicted World War II war criminals.
Relations between the two countries were strained under Koizumi over a range of issues related to World War II and Japan's occupation of the Korean Peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.
Referring to the historical and territorial issues, Fukuda and Lee confirmed that the two nations need to put more emphasis on the future relationship.
"We should bury the unfortunate past and make progress by strengthening our ties," Fukuda said at a press conference.
"We should not be caught in the past," Lee said, "The past should not interfere with what we are trying to achieve for the future."
Fukuda and Lee, who first met at Lee's inauguration in Seoul, also agreed to reinforce trilateral ties with the United States to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programmes and tackle environmental issues.
They agreed to hold a Japan-South Korea business summit round table involving business leaders in both nations in summer, and to establish working groups in June to resume negotiations on developing economic partnership, the statement said.
Student exchanges would also help improve the bilateral ties, the two leaders agreed.
Tokyo and Seoul were expected to accept 7,200 young Japanese and South Koreans every year to a bilateral working holiday programme. The programme would expand to accept up to 10,000 youths by 2012.