PREVIEW - Japanese, S. Korean Vice Foreign Ministers To Meet In Guam Fri-Sat In Bid To Fix Trade Row

PREVIEW - Japanese, S. Korean Vice Foreign Ministers to Meet in Guam Fri-Sat in Bid to Fix Trade Row

GUAM (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 16th August, 2019) Japanese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Takeo Akiba and his South Korean counterpart, Cho Sei-young, will hold negotiations from August 16-17 in Guam, a US island territory in the Pacific Ocean, in a bid to ease the recently escalated trade row.

The vice foreign ministers are set to discuss a range of problematic issues that have recently been fueling the row between Tokyo and Seoul, including the long-standing dispute around South Korea's forced World War II laborers.

Relations between Japan and South Korea dampened last year after the latter's top court ruled that a number of Japanese companies could be sued for their use of forced labor during World War II. Japan has protested the decision, claiming that the 1965 agreement between two countries had resolved the issue of damages once and for all.

The ties became even more tense in July, when Japan canceled preferential treatment for the exports of fluorinated polyimides, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride, which are vital for the production of semiconductors and displays, to South Korea. This move is believed to be related to Japan's preparation for selling assets of the Japanese companies obligated to provide compensations to the victims of forced labor.

In August, Tokyo decided to remove Seoul from the whitelist of trade partners that have preferences in importing Japanese technologies and high-tech products from August 28. Japan has cited security concerns as the reason behind its decision, saying it suspected Seoul of exporting double-purpose goods to Pyongyang in betrayal of Tokyo's confidence.

Seoul retaliated by excluding Japan from its list of favored trade partners with facilitated export conditions.

The move envisages that the export list will be modified to include three categories of trading partners instead of the current two, and Japan will be placed in the new category. This new group would be for a country that participates in the four international agreements "but operates an export control system that violates international norms," according to the South Korean Ministry of Industry.

Last week, against the background of the trade row, media reported that South Korean President Moon Jae-in instructed the government to take measures against Japanese claims over the Liancourt Rocks islands, disputed by Tokyo and Seoul, as well as possible leakage of radioactive water from storage tanks at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP).

On Thursday, Moon said that his country was ready to cooperate with Japan to end the trade dispute, stressing that Seoul would be glad to "join hands" if Tokyo wanted to talk.

"Better late than never: if Japan chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands. We will strive with Japan to create an East Asia that engages in fair trade and cooperation," Moon said.

Korea was a Japanese colony in 1910 - 1945 and suffered from World War II, in which Japan was engaged after attack on the US base Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It is believed that Japanese companies forced prisoners of war, as well as local residents, into hard labor in the Japanese military industry during the occupation. In accordance with the 1965 Japanese-South Korean agreement, Tokyo paid compensations for the damage inflicted to South Korea.

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