Japan to reinstate South Korea as preferred trading nation from July 21 as both sides improve relations

TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Tuesday announced its decision to reinstate South Korea as a favored nation with expedited trade status from July 21, all but ending a four-year economic row that has been further strained. during their bitter historic conflicts.

Commerce Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that Japan and South Korea also agreed to put in place a framework to review and monitor systems as needed.

Japan and South Korea quickly mended ties as they deepened their three-way security cooperation with Washington in response to growing regional threats from North Korea and China.

A restoration of South Korea’s preferential status next month would end a four-year trade dispute that began in July 2019 when Japan removed South Korea from its ‘white list’ of countries that received fast-track approvals. in trade as ties deteriorated due to Japanese wartime compensation. Shares.

Japan’s tightening of trade controls against Seoul was an apparent retaliation for South Korean court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean workers for abusive treatment and forced labor during World War II, when the Korean peninsula was under Japanese occupation.

Japan has also tightened export controls on key chemicals used by South Korean companies to make semiconductors and displays, prompting South Korea to file a complaint with the Organization. World Trade and to remove Japan from its own list of countries with privileged trading status.

Their ties have rapidly improved since March on the initiative of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government to resolve disputes over wartime compensation for Korean forced laborers. Yoon also visited Tokyo for talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and agreed to rebuild the countries’ security and economic ties.

After their talks, South Korea withdrew its complaint to the WTO. Japan simultaneously confirmed its removal of key chemical export controls. South Korea has also since restored Japan’s preferential trade status.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has tried to win South Korea’s understanding in a plan to dump treated radioactive water from the tsunami-destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea. It’s a highly controversial plan that faces strong opposition from South Korea and other neighboring countries, as well as local fishing communities concerned about safety and reputational damage.

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