June 8, 2017 / 2:06 AM / 2 months ago

Japan ruling party heavyweight to visit South Korea June 10-13

Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary General of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, prepares to put on his ear piece before a session on connectivity of development policies and strategies held as part of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017.Ng Han Guan/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - The secretary-general of Japan's ruling party will visit South Korea at the weekend and is likely to meet new president Moon Jae-in, a party official said on Thursday, just days after North Korea conducted its fourth missile launch in a month.

North Korea fired what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast earlier on Thursday, less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed fresh sanctions on the reclusive state.

Thursday's launch was the fourth missile test by North Korea since Moon took office in Seoul on May 10, pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang.

Arrangements were being made for Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, the second-most powerful politician in the ruling party after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to visit South Korea from June 10 to 13, an official at Nikai's office said.

A meeting with Moon was being planned but the timing was not yet set, the official said.

Nikai will be accompanied by a delegation that includes four other national lawmakers, regional officials and business leaders and could number "several hundred".

Abe has pledged to work with Moon, who has taken a more conciliatory line towards North Korea than the Japanese leader.

Moon has also suggested he could try to reverse a landmark agreement reached with Japan in 2015 to resolve the issue of "comfort women", as those forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels are known, an issue that has long plagued ties between the two nations.

Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Paul Tait

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