South Korea-Japan issues
March 16, 2023 - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol have met in Tokyo, the first summit in 12 years – amid threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.
The leaders of the two U.S. allies say they hope to turn the page on years of bitterness since the end of World War ll. Relations deteriorated in 2018 after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of wartime forced labour.
Japan was Korea’s colonial ruler for 35 years, between 1910 and 1945.
Meanwhile, North Korea fired a long-range ballistic missile that landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan just hours before Yoon’s arrival.
“As seen from North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile launch this morning before I left for Tokyo, North Korea’s ever-increasing nuclear missile capacity poses a great threat to peace and stability,” President Yoon said.
The two countries agreed to drop a 2019 trade dispute on high-tech semiconductor materials -- an issue that has dogged their relationship over compensation to forced labourers during Japan’s 35-year occupation of Korea, as well as the case of women and girls forced into Japanese military brothels.
Signs of a breakthrough came last week when Yoon announced a plan for South Korean companies to compensate former forced labourers.
Seoul will also drop a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint against Tokyo.
“Today’s meeting with Prime Minister Kishida has a special meaning of letting the people of our two countries know that South Korea-Japan relations, which have gone through difficult times due to various pending issues, are at a new starting point,” Yoon said.