Business groups have a part to play in firming up a deal meant to end a historical dispute between South Korea and Japan, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in an interview.
(Bloomberg) — Business groups have a part to play in firming up a deal meant to end a historical dispute between South Korea and Japan, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in an interview.
“The business community, rather than any individual company, has a role to play to fortify this decision,” Emanuel told Bloomberg News on Thursday, hours before President Yoon Suk Yeol arrives in Tokyo for the first formal summit in a more than a decade on Japanese soil between the neighbors. “Japan’s got to see that President Yoon’s their partner now,” he added. “You have to act consistent with that principle.”
Japan’s big business lobby Keidanren is set to host a meeting with representatives of its South Korean counterpart Friday, at which they are expected to discuss a proposal to fund a joint foundation as part of reconciliation efforts, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.
Ahead of the trip, Yoon told reporters he sees the deal with Japan opening the way to better business ties, which could bolster global supply chains of semiconductors and steady the economic relations of the neighbors with China — the biggest trading partner for both Tokyo and Seoul.
The visit comes after Japan and South Korea this month signaled a breakthrough to end a feud that had disrupted ties on everything from trade to security, drawing praise from President Joe Biden as he seeks to work with the two US allies to help counter growing Chinese influence in Asia.
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The proposal, which will have South Korean companies, rather than Japanese ones, compensate victims of colonial-era forced labor programs, was slammed by the opposition in Seoul. Surveys show a majority of the South Korean public also opposes it, while Japanese voters are largely in favor.
South Korean courts had found Japanese companies liable to pay compensation, a stance rejected by Japan, which says all disputes were resolved under a 1965 agreement. Fears were growing that Japanese assets seized by the courts could soon be sold off to cover the payouts, a move that would further undermine ties.
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Worsening tensions in the region, including a suspected launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea on Thursday, underscore the case for building ties, Emanuel said.
“DPRK will fire another missile, as they did this morning,” Emanuel said, using the formal abbreviation for North Korea. “China will do another thing confrontationally. That reminds both countries they have more in common together and they are stronger together than arguing about the past.”
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