SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in has offered an olive branch to Japan to end a tense trade dispute, saying Seoul will "gladly join hands" if Tokyo to accepts calls to resolve it through dialogue.

Moon in a nationally televised speech on Thursday also downplayed the threat posed by North Korea's recent short-range ballistic launches and expressed hope that Washington and Pyongyang would soon resume nuclear negotiations.

Moon's speech at a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II come amid heightened public anger over Tokyo's recent moves to impose trade curbs on South Korea, which triggered a full-blown diplomatic row.

Tens of thousands of South Koreans are expected to march in anti-Japan protests planned throughout Thursday.

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