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Japan reaches out to S. Korea to mend ties

SEOUL — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan reached out to South Korea’s incoming president, Park Geun-hye, on Friday by sending a special envoy to Seoul with calls for mending ties that had become strained under their predecessors.

But no immediate breakthrough was expected as the two main East Asian allies of the United States exchanged barbs couched in diplomatic language, a reflection of their differences rooted in Japan’s often brutal colonial rule of Korea from 1910 until 1945.

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The Japanese envoy, Fukushiro Nukaga, a lawmaker in the Liberal Democratic Party, met Park in her Seoul office, delivering a letter from Abe and the Japanese leader’s invitation for Park to visit Tokyo. Nukaga relayed Abe’s call for a close cooperative relationship with Park, hoping that ‘‘the launching of new governments in both counties will mark a good starting point in bilateral relations,’’ said Cho Yoon-sun, a spokeswoman for Park.

Park shared a similar wish, calling for more exchanges between the two countries.

Analysts said the dispatching of the special envoy to Seoul may be a sign that Abe was trying to prevent the worsening of ties between Japan and its neighbors, which have grown strained over a series of territorial spats.

During its successful campaign for the Dec. 16 parliamentary election, Abe’s party tapped nationalistic emotions stoked by the territorial disputes. And during her own campaign for South Korea’s Dec. 19 presidential election, Park, like all her predecessors, vowed not to show weakness in the disputes with Japan.

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