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Vice unification minister seeking to meet Japanese official during Tokyo visit

North Korea 11:31 July 15, 2019

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho is seeking to meet a Japanese official during his three-day visit to Japan this week, his ministry said Monday, amid growing concerns over a trade row between the two countries.

Suh is set to leave for Japan on Tuesday to give a keynote speech at a side event of the Korea Global Forum for Peace hosted by the unification ministry, it said.

"(The government) is pushing to set a schedule for a meeting with a Japanese government official (during his visit)," Lee Sang-min, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

The meeting, if realized, will focus on discussing denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula, he said, without giving further details.

The vice minister also plans to meet with Korean peninsula experts and South Koreans living in Japan on the sidelines of the forum, the ministry said.

Kicking off in Seoul last month, the security forum includes a series of regional events starting with one in Japan, followed by sessions in China and Russia in September and the last in the U.S. in November.

Suh's trip comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries following Japan's toughened restrictions on exports to South Korea of key industrial materials used in semiconductors and displays earlier this month.

The move was widely seen as a retaliatory step for last year's Supreme Court rulings here that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of wartime forced labor.

Japan has protested the rulings, arguing that all reparation issues stemming from its 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula were settled under a 1965 government-to-government accord aimed at normalizing bilateral ties.

South Korea has refused to intercede in the civil litigation, saying it honors the democratic constitutional principle that guarantees the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers.

In this photo provided by the unification ministry, Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho speaks during a security forum in the border town of Cheorwon, 90 kilometers northeast of Seoul, on July 4, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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