November 25, 2019 11:48
President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abend are expected to hold a summit next month, raising hopes of a thaw in the two neighbors' highly ritualized standoffs, which have spilt over into trade and security.
The breakthrough was achieved when Korea at the 11th hour conditionally extended a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact that was set to expire on Friday. While continuing their war of nerves, Korea and Japan have also sent friendlier signals in the last few weeks.
Top of the agenda will reportedly be the intelligence-sharing pact, Japanese export restrictions to Korea, and compensation for Koreans who were forced to labor for Japanese industries during World War II.
Japan is considering lifting restrictions on exports of high-tech materials to Korea, while Korea is proposing a new formula whereby both Korean and Japanese businesses plus public donations could be used to compensate forced labor victims.
It remains to be seen whether the Japanese government and the victims are willing to accept that plan. The government here plan to meet with them to listen to their views.
But all is not well. Cheong Wa Dae's national security adviser Chung Eui-yong voiced "deep regret" over Japanese media reports quoting Abe as claiming a "perfect victory" over Korea following the extension of the intelligence-sharing pact.
"If this kind of behavior repeats itself, we could face major difficulties in the progress of bilateral negotiations," Chung told reporters on the sidelines of the special Korea-ASEAN summit in Busan.
He complained about the Japanese government leaking the extension of the pact to the Japanese media before it was officially announced, and the Japanese government making the official announcement seven to eight minutes later than the time agreed by the two sides.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department welcomed Korea's decision to "renew" the pact though Korea billed it is a "conditional extension."
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