Japan and South Korea determined to improve ties | News | DW | 23.11.2019
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Japan and South Korea determined to improve ties

The Asian neighbors have agreed to meet in December to end a trade dispute and resolve disagreements over their painful wartime past. Japan had rejected an earlier attempt by South Korea to find a compromise.

Japan and South Korea agreed Saturday to reopen talks aimed at resolving historical tensions between the two countries, according to a Japanese Foreign Ministry official.

The foreign ministers of the neighboring nations met on the sidelines of a two-day G-20 meeting in the Japanese city of Nagoya.

Relations between Japan and South Korea have been strained by decades of bitterness over compensation for wartime forced laborers dating back to Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II.

Frank discussions

Ties began a downward spiral after a series of South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced labor victims. They further worsened after Japan curbed exports of sensitive high-tech materials used to make goods critical to South Korean industry.

"We bought time for intense discussions, but there's not much time left for us," South Korea's foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, told reporters on Saturday.

Japan's foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, had earlier indicated that he wanted a frank discussion with South Korea to take place.

"I aim to hold a candid exchange of views on the matter of laborers from the Korean Peninsula, which is the core problem, and other bilateral issues," Motegi said.

Read more: Japan restricts chip smartphone materials exports to South Korea

Watch video 02:13

Japan-South Korea trade war escalates

Intelligence-sharing pact

The spat has intensified in recent months as a result of a simmering trade dispute which has sent the costs of goods rising in both countries.

South Korea made a last-minute decision on Friday to stick with its General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) intelligence-sharing accord with Japan. It was set to expire at midnight on Friday and Seoul had earlier indicated it would let it lapse.

The decision by the two US allies was welcomed by Washington, which had pressured Tokyo and Seoul to maintain the pact, seen as a linchpin of trilateral security cooperation amid China's growing influence.

kw/ng (AP, Reuters)

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