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South Korea, Japan to carry summit subsequent week to broaden ties

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SEOUL, South Korea — The leaders of South Korea and Japan will meet subsequent week for a summit on strengthening ties, each governments mentioned Thursday, days after South Korea unveiled a step towards resolving strained ties stemming from Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

President Yoon Suk Yeol is to go to Japan on March 16-17 on the invitation of the Japanese authorities and can meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in line with the South Korean and Japanese governments.

Yoon’s workplace mentioned in a press release that the summit might be “an essential milestone” within the improvement of South Korea-Japan relations. It mentioned South Korea hopes the 2 nations will “overcome an unlucky previous” and broaden cooperation on safety, the economic system and different sectors because of the go to.

Kishida instructed reporters that “I hope to make (Yoon’s go to) a possibility to work towards strengthening our relationship.”

Japanese Chief Cupboard Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno individually mentioned Tokyo’s invitation to the South Korean chief was the results of shut communication between the 2 nations since Yoon’s inauguration final Might.

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“South Korea is a crucial neighbor that Japan ought to cooperate with in numerous points,” Matsuno mentioned.

On Monday, South Korea introduced it will elevate native funds to compensate Koreans who received injury awards in lawsuits in opposition to two Japanese corporations over their pressured labor through the 1910-45 colonial interval. The South Korean plan doesn’t require the Japanese corporations — Nippon Metal and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — to contribute to the reparations.

Bilateral ties suffered a serious setback after South Korea’s Supreme Courtroom in 2018 ordered the 2 Japanese corporations to compensate a few of their former Korean staff for pressured labor. The businesses and the Japanese authorities refused to adjust to the rulings and insisted that each one compensation points have been settled by a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations and was accompanied by lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} in financial help and loans from Tokyo to Seoul.

In 2019, Japan imposed export controls on chemical substances very important to South Korea’s semiconductor trade. South Korea, then ruled by Yoon’s liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in, threatened to terminate a army intelligence-sharing settlement with Tokyo, a serious image of their safety cooperation with Washington.

The fraught Seoul-Tokyo ties difficult American efforts to bolster its three-way safety cooperation within the face of rising Chinese language affect within the area and North Korean nuclear threats. President Joe Biden hailed South Korea’s announcement as “a groundbreaking new chapter” of cooperation between two of the USA’ closest allies.

Kishida reiterated on Thursday that Japan welcomes the South Korean plan. On Monday, he mentioned he stood by Japan’s earlier expression of regrets and apologies for its colonial wrongdoing.

Since taking workplace, Yoon, a conservative, has pushed for stronger relations with Japan as a option to enhance cooperation amongst Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to higher take care of the rising North Korean nuclear risk. Observers say improved ties with Japan are additionally essential amid international provide chain challenges and strategic competitors between the U.S. and China.

In September, Yoon and Kishida held the primary summit between the 2 nations in almost three years on the sidelines of the United Nations Common Meeting. They agreed to speed up efforts to fix their frayed ties.

The South Korean plan to finish the disputes over the 2018 rulings elicited fierce opposition from among the pressured labor victims concerned within the lawsuits, their supporters, and liberal opposition politicians. They’ve referred to as the South Korean step a diplomatic give up and demanded direct funds and a recent apology from Japan over the difficulty.

On Tuesday, Yoon defended his authorities’s step, saying it’s essential for Seoul to construct future-oriented ties with Tokyo.

After months of negotiations with Tokyo over the court docket rulings, South Korean officers mentioned they’d decided there was little likelihood of Tokyo reversing its place. They mentioned in addition they thought-about the superior age of the surviving victims.

Among the many 15 plaintiffs who received damages from the Japanese corporations, solely three are nonetheless alive and all are of their 90s.

A senior South Korean official mentioned he anticipated Japan to difficulty a clearer expression of apology over the pressured labor difficulty and take different reciprocal measures if the South Korean compensation plan goes easily and bilateral ties enhance meaningfully.

The official requested anonymity to debate the fragile difficulty.

Whereas there may be some criticism that South Korea made too many concessions, the official mentioned the step may push Japan to consider easy methods to react whereas letting the U.S. and different nations know South Korea is open-minded in cooperating with the worldwide neighborhood.


Related Press author Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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