Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
SKorea to Restore Japan's Trade Status 03/21 06:07


   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday 
his government will move to restore Japan's preferential trade status as he 
pushes to resolve history and trade disputes with Japan despite domestic 

   In lengthy, televised comments during a Cabinet Council meeting, Yoon 
defended his moves, saying that leaving ties with Japan as fraught as they are 
would be neglecting his duty because greater bilateral cooperation is vital to 
resolve diverse challenges facing Seoul.

   "I thought it would be like neglecting my duty as president if I had also 
incited hostile nationalism and anti-Japan sentiments to use them for domestic 
politics while leaving behind the current, grave international political 
situation," Yoon said.

   He said the need to boost ties with Japan has grown because of North Korea's 
advancing nuclear program, the intensifying U.S.-China strategic rivalry and 
global supply chain challenges.

   South Korea and Japan have deep economic and cultural ties and are both key 
U.S. allies that together host about 80,000 U.S. troops. But their relations 
have often fluctuated mainly due to issues stemming from Japan's 1910-45 
colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

   At the center of the recent impasse was the 2018 South Korean court rulings 
that ordered two Japanese companies to compensate some of their former Korean 
employees for forced labor during Japanese rule. Japan refused to accept the 
rulings, saying all compensation issues had already been settled when the two 
countries normalized ties in 1965.

   The history disputes spilled over to other issues, with the two countries 
downgrading each other's trade status. Japan also tightened controls on exports 
to South Korea, while Seoul threatened to terminate a military 
intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.

   After months of negotiations with Japan, Yoon's government earlier this 
month announced it would use local funds to compensate the forced laborer 
victims involved in the 2018 lawsuits without requiring contributions from the 
Japanese companies.

   Last week, Yoon traveled to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister 
Fumio Kishida, during which they agreed to resume regular visits and launch 
high-level economic security talks.

   Ahead of the summit, the South Korean government said Japan had agreed to 
lift export restrictions on materials needed for key South Korean export items 
like semiconductors and smartphones, and that South Korea would also withdraw 
its complaint to the World Trade Organization once the curbs are removed. They 
said the two countries would continue talks on restoring each other's trade 
status as well.

   The conservative Yoon's push has triggered protests from some of the forced 
labor victims and liberal opposition politicians, who have demanded direct 
compensation from the Japanese companies and a direct apology from Tokyo over 
the forced labor. A public survey suggested about 60% of Koreans opposed Yoon's 
measures to resolve the forced labor issue.

   In his Cabinet Council remarks, Yoon said he will order his trade minister 
to begin taking legal steps necessary to restore Japan on a "whitelist" of 
nations receiving preferential fast-track trade status.

   He said both South Korea and Japan must remove obstacles that hinder the 
improvement of bilateral ties. "If South Korea preemptively eliminates 
obstacles, Japan will surely reciprocate," he said.

   Yoon said his government will also strive to help heal the pains of the 
forced labor victims and their relatives. But he said there are still those in 
South Korea who attempt to increase their political gains by "shouting 
exclusive nationalism and anti-Japan (slogans)."

   The main liberal opposition Democratic Party responded that Yoon's 
condemnation of his critics cannot justify his Japan diplomacy that it said 
hurt South Korea's national pride and interests. Spokesperson Ahn Ho-young said 
Yoon must apologize and withdraw his third-party reimbursement plan for the 
forced labor victims.

Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN