TOKYO (Kyodo) -- South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak Yon laid flowers on Tuesday at a memorial monument for two men, one of them a South Korean student, who died while trying to save a man who had fallen onto train tracks in Tokyo in 2001.
Lee said after praying in silence, "The two men indicated love of humanity crosses national borders. I came here to mourn over their heart of devotion."
South Korean student Lee Su Hyon, 26, and Japanese photographer Shiro Sekine, 47, jumped onto the tracks at JR Shin-Okubo Station in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward in an attempt to rescue a drunken Japanese man. All three died after a train hit them.
By paying his respect to the victims, the South Korean premier, who attended a ceremony in which Emperor Naruhito proclaimed his enthronement earlier in the day, is believed to have shown desire to improve bilateral ties that have deteriorated recently over wartime history and trade policy.
"It's rather foolish that an unfortunate period of time, not even reaching 50 years, damages the 1,500-year history of friendship and cooperation," Lee said.
Lee is planning to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday and deliver a letter from South Korean President Moon Jae In, hoping the meeting will help promote dialogue between the two neighboring countries.
Before leaving South Korea for his three-day visit to Japan, Lee tweeted congratulations on the start of the Reiwa Era under the new emperor and extended condolences to those impacted by Typhoon Hagibis.