March 16, 2023 13:01
President Yoon Suk-yeol told the Yomiuri Shimbun a day before his departure to Japan, "I believe that there are many fields in which we can create synergistic effects by complementing each other's strengths and weaknesses." He pointed to semiconductors, space technology and biotechnology as potential areas of cooperation and added that if Korea's capabilities in the digital sector are combined with Japan's strengths in precision materials, components and machinery, "both countries will encounter more opportunities to enter new markets."
The two manufacturing powerhouses maintained extremely close economic cooperation for more than 50 years. Korea's mainstay semiconductor industry cannot grow without Japanese materials, parts and machinery, and Japan's industries require Korean semiconductors. The government's announcement on Wednesday to create the world's largest semiconductor mega-cluster needs Japanese materials, parts and machinery, while the two countries' petrochemical, steel and chemical sectors are interconnected like finely-tuned cogwheels.
If Korea's exports grow, its imports from Japan also increase and vice versa. Due to the policies of the past administration, Korea-Japan relations deteriorated and almost half of Korean businesses in Japan pulled out. Both countries were busy shooting themselves in the foot for the last three to four years.
A recovery of economic cooperation between Korea and Japan is vital as global supply chains are being reorganized in the new cold war between the U.S. and China. This is why Yoon proposed a solution to the issue of forced labor despite huge political risks. This summit offers a chance to make things right again.
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