South Korea, Japan resume high-level economic talks amid improved ties
South Korea, Japan resume high-level economic talks amid improved ties
South Korea, Japan resume high-level economic talks amid improved ties
by DZRH News22 December 2023
South Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs Kang Jae-Kwon, talks with Japan's senior Deputy Foreign Minister Keiichi Ono, during their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, South Korea. 21 December 2023. JEON HEON-KYUN/Pool via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea and Japan held high-level economic talks on Thursday for the first time in eight years, in a further sign of improving ties as the countries are drawn closer by shared geopolitical concerns.

The talks, which first began in 1999, had been stalled since 2016 as relations between the two North Asian U.S. allies took a hit over historical disputes stemming from Japan's 1910-1945 occupation of Korea.

But South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has made it a priority to mend ties with Tokyo since taking office in 2022.

Kang Jae-kwon, South Korea's deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, was due to assess bilateral economic cooperation and discuss economic security policy with his Japanese counterpart Keiichi Ono, senior deputy foreign minister, Seoul's foreign ministry said.


"I hope that today's meeting will be a constructive time to contribute to restoring and deepening economic relations between the two countries," Kang said during his opening remarks at the meeting with Ono.

Earlier this year, South Korea announced plans for its companies to compensate people forced to work under Japan's 1910-1945 occupation as it pushed to end a spat that has undercut U.S.-led efforts to present a unified front against China and North Korea.

In a further example of increasing trilateral cooperation, Japan, South Korea and Washington announced the launch of a real-time missile data-sharing system to help monitor Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

In July, Japan also reinstated South Korea to its "white list" for exports with fast-track trade status after lifting export curbs on high-tech materials to South Korea in March.


Nonetheless, there continues to be friction in the ties between Japan and South Korea.

This includes Seoul's decade-long ban on seafood originating from the area around the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant and a recent South Korean court ruling in favour of a group of South Korean women, known as "comfort women", who were forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels.

South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld rulings ordering two Japanese companies to compensate South Koreans who were forced to work under Japan's colonial rule, a decision that immediately sparked a protest by Tokyo.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; additional reporting by Ju-min Park and Dogyun Kim; Editing by Ed Davies, Jacqueline Wong and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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