South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday sent a message to outgoing Japanese Emperor Akihito in appreciation for his role in developing relations between the two countries, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
Akihito, 85, is set to end his three-decade-long reign on Tuesday afternoon following his decision to voluntarily step down due to his health conditions. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will succeed him the following day.
"While saying the emperor has stressed the significance of keeping the importance of peace during his reign, President Moon expressed his appreciation for (Akihito's) great contribution to developing the South Korea-Japan relationship," Kim In-chul, foreign ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.
"Also (Moon) expressed his expectation that after stepping down, (Akihito) will make efforts for the development of the bilateral relationship," he added.
The spokesman also said that the Seoul government hopes the two countries' relations will develop in a future-oriented way under the new emperor.
Akihito's abdication ends his era, called Heisei, which means achieving peace, and will usher in Naruhito's new era of Reiwa, which can be translated as order and harmony.
Noting that the Reiwa era begins on Wednesday, South Korea's Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon called for the two countries' leaders to work together to forge a new friendly, cooperative relationship.
In a tweet, he also thanked the outgoing emperor for cherishing South Korea-Japan relations.
The relations between the two neighbors have chilled in recent months amid tensions over Japan's wartime forced labor and a military spat caused by Tokyo's claim that a South Korean warship locked fire-control radar on its patrol aircraft in December.(Yonhap)