Tokyo (AFP) – Japan and South Korea have agreed on steps to resolve the trade dispute, one of the tensions the two countries’ leaders sought to resolve at a summit on Thursday.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Sok Yul will meet later in the day in Tokyo in an effort to overcome differences over history and quickly rebuild security and economic ties between their two countries. A North Korean missile launch and clashes between Japanese and Chinese ships in disputed waters earlier Thursday show what is at stake for the two countries.
South Korean Trade Minister Lee Chang-yang said following talks this week that Japan has agreed to lift export controls on South Korea, which will withdraw its complaint to the World Trade Organization once the restrictions are removed.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that Japan acknowledged the improvement in South Korea’s export controls during the talks and that as a result of Seoul’s decision to drop the WTO case, Japan decided to cancel the restrictions on South Korea and return the country to the status quo ante. Prior to July 2019.
Lee’s ministry said the countries will continue to discuss returning each other to preferred trading status, after downgrading each other in 2019.
Japanese export controls covered fluorinated polyimides, which are used in light-emitting diode (OLED) displays for televisions and smartphones, and photoresist and hydrogen fluoride, used in the semiconductor industry.
The two countries, who have often been at odds over their histories, are seeking to form a united front with their mutual ally, the United States, driven by shared concerns about a volatile North Korea and a more powerful China. their top A series of dramatic events is coming that shed light on how Northeast Asia is being divided into blocs.
North Korea welcomes the summit with a missile test
North Korean missile launch Early Thursday, before Yoon leaves for Tokyo, the momentum could build for him and Kishida to bring their countries closer diplomatically. The ICBM was launched on a steep trajectory to avoid land and plunged into the open waters off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The test comes after a year in which North Korea escalated its nuclear threatsand is likely to send a message about the summit and simultaneous joint military exercises including the United States, which the isolated country views as directed against it.
“Peace and stability in the region are important to the region, and we should further strengthen cooperation between allies and like-minded countries,” Kishida said, referring to the missile launch.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Japan at the summit wanted to reaffirm cooperation with Seoul and Washington in responding to North Korea’s missile threats.
Yun, in a written response Wednesday to foreign media questions Including the Associated Press, the strained relations between Korea and Japan should be repaired as soon as possible. “I believe we must end the vicious cycle of mutual hostility and work together to pursue the common interests of our two countries.”
The region in phlox like Washington, Beijing is a cog for influence
Washington would welcome improved relations between Japan and South Korea, as disagreement over historical issues has undermined a US push to strengthen its alliances in Asia to better deal with North Korean nuclear threats and the rise of China.
China’s dispute with Japan over small islands in the East China Sea intensified on Thursday, with both sides accusing the other of violating their maritime territory after Chinese coast guard ships entered the waters around an uninhabited group of islands that Japan controls and calls the Senkaku, which includes Beijing. It also claims and calls the Diaoyu Islands. Just north of Taiwan are the islands, which also claim their own.
The summit also follows a string of Chinese diplomatic successes in regions traditionally seen as more influenced by the United States, which Honduras announced on Wednesday it would end diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. in favor of China, marking progress in Beijing’s efforts to isolate the autonomous island, while last week Saudi Arabia and Iran announced a surprise deal to renew diplomatic relations mediated by China..
The United States is also making efforts to strengthen regional alliances. Washington appears to be working on holding a summit today, and on Thursday began joint anti-submarine warfare exercises with South Korea and Japan as well as Canada and India.
South Korea makes concessions striving to move past history
Attention at the first summit of the two countries in Japan since 2011 centered on how Kishida would respond to the fund’s Yoon plan, a major concession from Seoul, and whether or when they would resume defense dialogues and regular visits by leaders.
According to Kishida’s office, Kishida and Yun are scheduled to have dinner together after the summit, and then have informal talks. Media reports said Kishida would host a two-part dinner: “sukiyaki” beef stew for the first round, then “umu-rice,” or rice-topped omelette — reportedly Yoon’s favorite dish — at another restaurant.
Japan and South Korea have long been locked in disputes over Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and atrocities during World War II, which included the forced prostitution of “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers, and territorial disputes over a group of islands.
Relations soured after South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2018 ordered two Japanese firms, Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to compensate some of their former Korean employees for forced labor during World War II.
Japan insisted that all reparations issues were settled under the 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations and was accompanied by $800 million in economic aid and loans from Tokyo to Seoul.
The history of the feuds extended to trade and defence. The two countries agreed to negotiate to restore their trade relationship to the status quo before Japan imposed restrictions in 2019.
On Thursday, Japan’s powerful business lobby, the Keidanren, or Japan Business Federation, announced that it and its South Korean counterpart had agreed to set up a pair of special funds for bilateral projects such as youth exchanges.
Dozens of business leaders traveling with Yoon are scheduled to meet with their Japanese counterparts on Friday.
Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
Find more AP Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific
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