Top diplomats of South Korea, Japan to meet amid easing tensions

By Elizabeth Shim
Top diplomats of South Korea, Japan to meet amid easing tensions
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa (L) and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono (R) shake hands prior to talks during the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok on August 1. The top diplomats are to meet again Thursday in Beijing.  Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and Japan are expected to meet in Beijing on Thursday, amid a prolonged trade dispute and ahead of the renewal of the Japan-Korea GSOMIA, a military intelligence-sharing agreement.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-hwa most recently met at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Thailand, and are planning to exchange views again during a trilateral meeting in China this week, South Korean television network KBS reported.


Ahn Deok-geun, a professor of international trade law at Seoul National University, told the network the decision to hold the meeting is a positive step forward.

"Ahead of negotiations between the two countries, signals indicating Japan wants to meet and discuss issues point to a very positive situation," Ahn said.

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The decision to hold the bilateral meeting in Beijing comes at a time when Japan is moving forward with other measures, including new export permits.

On Monday, Tokyo approved the export of photoresists and other key chemicals for South Korean semiconductor producers, the second time in the last seven days Japan has given the green light to restricted exports.


The volume of chemicals covers six months of raw materials required for South Korea's semi-conductor manufacturers, principally Samsung Electronics.

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Taken together, the Japanese exports approved this and last week have allowed Samsung to secure 9 months' worth of required inputs, according to KBS.

Tokyo's trade restrictions have dominated the bilateral agenda, but other issues have yet to be resolved between the two countries.

The Korea Herald reported Monday Seoul summoned a Japanese diplomat to provide an explanation for a Japanese plan to release radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

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Seoul requested transparency on the issue.

Japan has been cleaning the water and storing it in large tanks in Fukushima. The country has removed most radionuclides but not tritium, according to the report.

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