In 1988, Japan wanted Crown Prince Akihito to visit South Korea, records show

A former senior Japanese government official informed the South Korean side in 1988 of hopes that Emperor Akihito, then the Crown Prince, would make a visit to South Korea as soon as possible, according to declassified diplomatic records.

The documents were released by the South Korean Foreign Ministry on Sunday.

Then-Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Ryohei Murata told former South Korea Ambassador to Japan I Won-gyon that the Japanese Foreign Ministry hoped that the Crown Prince would visit South Korea at an early date, the records show.

At the same time, Murata said there were many issues that needed to be considered, such as the health condition of then-Emperor Hirohito, the father of the current Emperor and known posthumously as Emperor Showa, as well as the timing of a South Korea visit by the Crown Prince, according to the records.

I reported Murata’s remarks to the South Korean government.

Murata made the remarks at a meeting over lunch in September 1988, to which the South Korean envoy was invited, the records show. They exchanged views on the international situation at the time and a plan to visit Japan by Roh Tae-woo, who was the South Korean president at the time.

Murata also presented the option of the Crown Prince’s possible South Korea visit being discussed at a Japan-South Korea summit, according to the records.

But Murata was also quoted as saying that various approaches, such as making no official announcement, could be studied. He made the statement apparently in consideration of the feelings of South Korean people over the possible visit, experts said.

Every March the South Korean Foreign Ministry discloses diplomatic records 30 years after their compilation.

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