Japan, South Korea Leaders Conduct First Working Meeting in 12 Years

Japan, South Korea Leaders Conduct First Working Meeting in 12 Years

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Tokyo on March 12 to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, aiming to ease years of diplomatic tension. It was the first visit by a South Korean leader to Japan for a bilateral working meeting in 12 years.

After the leaders’ meeting, Japan’s trade ministry said it would lift export curbs to South Korea on some high-tech materials, namely fluorinated polyimides, resists and hydrogen fluoride. The decision came after confirming the effectiveness of South Korea’s export control regime at a three-day policy dialogue and South Korea’s plan to withdraw its complaint filed at the World Trade Organization on Japan’s export controls.

The two leaders agreed to revive regular visits to each other’s countries. Kishida said the visits would be frequent and informal. They also agreed to restart a bilateral security dialogue, suspended since 2018, in view of heightened threats to regional security with North Korea’s frequent missile launches.

Yoon declared a “complete normalization” of the intelligence-sharing GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) pact, which Seoul threatened to pull out of in 2019. Kishida said the two countries will set up a conference to discuss economic security matters.

Japan’s biggest business lobby Keidanren and its South Korean counterpart, the Federation of Korean Industries, agreed to each set up a fund aimed at building “future-oriented” relations through joint projects in the areas of politics, economy and culture, and promote the exchange of younger people between the two nations.