S.Korea to restore Japan's fast-track trade status

S.Korea to restore Japan's fast-track trade status

In this photo provided by Japan's Cabinet Public Affairs Office, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol left and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pose for a photo as they visit a restaurant in the famed Ginza district of Tokyo on March 16, 2023. Yoon said on March 21, 2023 that he would restore Japan's fast-track trade status after a summit with Kishida last week, a move he called crucial for bolstering supply chains in key areas. After a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week, PHOTO AP SEOUL the Republic of Korea spokesman Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday that he would restore Japan's fast-track trade status, a move he called crucial for bolstering supply chains in key areas.

Yoon said at a cabinet meeting that the ROK and Japan should make efforts to remove obstacles that hinder development of bilateral ties.

Yoon told the meeting that we will order our trade minister today to begin necessary legal procedures to have Japan back on our white list. I'm sure Japan will respond if the ROK starts to remove obstacles. In the year 2019, the ROK and Japan removed each other from the list due to a decades-old row over a 2018 ROK court order for Japanese companies to compensate forced laborers during Japan's 1910 -- 45 occupation of Korea.

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Tokyo criticized the ruling, saying that the issue was resolved under a treaty of 1965 that normalized relations, and the strained ties fueled concerns over US-led efforts to bolster cooperation to counter the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Yoon, who took office in May, vowed to repair bilateral ties and visited Tokyo last week for the first time in 12 years as an ROK leader.

Yoon is attempting to solve the forced labor feud through a plan unveiled this month, under which a public foundation, funded by ROK companies, would pay compensation.

The plan was welcomed in Tokyo but received a backlash from some victims and ROK opposition lawmakers who accused Yoon of capitulating to Tokyo and inviting Japanese troops back to the Korean peninsula.

Yoon said that some people would seek political gain by fuelling hostile nationalism and anti-Japan sentiment, without naming them, but it was irresponsible to do so as president.

He also accused his predecessor's government of leaving relations in a quagmire at the expense of crucial economic, security and people-to-people exchanges.

I felt like I was trapped in a maze with no exit, but I couldn't sit back and watch, Yoon said.

Kishida told him at the summit that he would uphold Japan's past apologies for wartime atrocities, including a 1998 declaration focusing on colonial rule, now is the time for the two neighbors to go beyond the past, Yoon said.

The relationship is not a zero-sum one where one side gains and the other side loses as much. He said that it can and must be a win-win.

He said that better ties would help build stable supply chains in high-tech industries such as semiconductors, by linking ROK's manufacturing technology with Japan's edge in materials, parts and equipment.

The US wants to have greater cooperation with its key Asian allies on economic security.

As a follow-up to the summit, Seoul's foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had normalized an intelligence-sharing pact, known as GSOMIA, with Tokyo to foster closer security cooperation on the DPRK.