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Japan's new PM visits South Korea. Will the visit bring the countries closer?

Japan and South Korea have a complicated history, but both face challenges with North Korea and a rising China.

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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, front right, and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, enter for their meeting at Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday.

Kim Jae-hwan/AP

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Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, on his first foreign visit to South Korea since assuming his post two months ago, returned ancient royal books stolen during Japanese colonial rule but made no concessions Wednesday on long-running issues, despite rising concerns about China and North Korea.

While demonstrators outside the Japanese Embassy denounced Mr. Noda’s visit, Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak told him Japan “needs to make active efforts” over demands dating from 35 years of Japanese rule that ended in August 1945.

Well before Mr. Noda got here, however, Japanese diplomats made carefully clear that Japan is not going to budge on the question of compensation for women forced to serve Japanese soldiers as “comfort women” during World War II.

Still, among major mutual concerns are how to deal with North Korea diplomatically and militarily and what to make of the power of China.

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