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S. Korea, Japan are key U.S. partners in dealing with N. Korea: White House spokeswoman

All News 04:23 March 04, 2021

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan are key partners of the United States in dealing with threats posed by North Korea, a White House spokesperson said Wednesday.

The remarks from Jen Psaki at a daily press briefing come amid a steady deterioration in ties between the U.S. allies.

Asked if there will be any three-way discussion between the countries in the near future, she said, "I am sure at some point there will be. I have nothing to preview for you, but of course, Japan and South Korea are key components in addressing the threats on the Korean Peninsula."

Seoul-Tokyo ties ebbed in mid-2019, when Japan imposed restrictions on South Korea-bound exports of three key materials used to produce semiconductors and display panels in an apparent retaliation against a Seoul court ruling that ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation to South Korean workers forced into free labor during World War II.

The longstanding history issue between the two Asian countries surfaced again last month when J. Mark Ramseyer, a Japanese legal studies professor at Harvard University, published an article in which he argued former Korean sex slaves of the Japanese military had in fact voluntarily entered into contracts for prostitution.

Psaki said she was not aware of the article, saying she would be "happy to take a closer look at it."

The State Department, however, has reaffirmed its recognition and denunciation of Japan's World War II atrocity.

"As the United States has stated many times, the trafficking of women for sexual purposes by the Japanese military during World War II was an egregious violation of human rights," a department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We continue to closely follow developments in relations between our two close allies, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). We have long encouraged Japan and the ROK to continue to work together on this issue in a way that promotes healing and reconciliation," the official said, referring to South Korea by its official name.


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