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Seoul-Tokyo summit needed to restore ties, resolve pending issues: biz leaders

All News 09:30 July 04, 2022

By Kim Seung-yeon

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- Business leaders of South Korea and Japan on Monday called for the leaders of the two countries to hold a summit at an early date to address pending bilateral issues and help restore economic ties.

The joint call was made by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren -- major business lobbies in the two countries -- during their annual meeting that was resumed after a nearly three-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We must look to the future, not the past, and upgrade the joint declaration, which emphasizes cooperation in all fields, to fit the present," FKI Chief Huh Chang-soo said in a speech during the Korea-Japan Business Council in Seoul.

"In accordance with the purpose of the declaration, we hope that a summit between our leaders will be held as soon as possible so that the pending issues can be resolved at once, such as abolishing the mutual export restrictions, resuming the currency swap and Korea's joining of the CPTPP," Huh said.

Huh was referring to a 1998 joint statement between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.

The declaration paved the way for closer cooperation between the two neighbors at the time, as Obuchi expressed "keen remorse" and apologized for the damage and pain his country inflicted on Koreans during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Relations between the two countries remain badly frayed after Tokyo implemented export restrictions against Seoul over industrial materials vital to the South's tech sectors, on top of the ongoing disputes over wartime history and other issues.

Hopes have arisen for an improvement in the bilateral relations as the new government of President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has called for mending the ties in a future-oriented manner to benefit both countries.

Maskazu Tokura, chief of Keidanren, also expressed hope for high-level diplomatic meetings, including a summit, to take place between the two sides.

"The more difficult the relationship between Korea and Japan becomes, the more important it is to respect the spirit of the declaration and move forward together toward the future," Tokura said.

At Monday's meeting, the Korean participants also asked for support of the Japanese business circle for Seoul's push to join a major free trade agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) involving 11 nations, including Japan.

Japan has been reluctant to South Korea's entry, citing Seoul's import ban on its seafood from the Fukushima area on radiation exposure concerns following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown.

In light of underscoring the trilateral cooperation among the two neighbors and the United States, their mutual ally, there was a proposal about forming a regular "business summit meeting" involving the three sides.

The business leaders also shared the need to resume the mutual visa waiver programs that remain suspended over COVID-19 concerns.

More than 20 top business leaders from the two countries took part in the event, including Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin and Kim Yoon, chairman of Samyang Holdings Corp. Presidents of top South Korean firms like Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and POSCO Holdings were also among those present at the meeting.


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