Foreign Ministries of South Korea and Japan hold Discussions on Deteriorating Diplomatic Relations

The worsening economic relations between the countries is a factor that could make the diplomatic relations suffer

March 15th, 2019
Diana Usurelu, News from Berlin
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Amid a chill in South Korea-Japan relations over a South Korean Supreme Court ruling on compensation for forced labor conscription during the Japanese occupation, the two sides agreed during director general-level foreign ministry discussions on March 14 that further deterioration of the situation through economic retaliation and other means would be best avoided.

The two countries agreed to cooperate and work on ensuring that these things do not happen between foreign affairs authorities. On Mar. 12, Japanese Deputy Prime Minister commented, “I think there are various possible retaliatory measures beyond tariffs, including suspension of wire transfers and visa issuance.”

However, the two sides appeared to be continuing on different paths regarding a solution to the forced labor conscription issue. Kanasugi urged Seoul to agree to the “diplomatic discussions” requested on Jan. 9 in accordance with Article 3-1 of the South Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement of 1965, while Kim reiterated that Seoul was “examining things closely while considering the different elements,” sources said. 

Retaliation measures could seriously harm Japanese businesses and tourism. This proves to show that not only diplomatic relations might be harmed but also cultural ones. The Nikkei newspaper reported on March 14th that a halt to visa issuance to South Koreans could lead to a sharp decrease in tourism. With South Korea’s trade deficit with Japan last year amounting to around US$24 billion and 85% of Japan businesses in South Korea generating a surplus, Japanese companies stand to suffer a substantial blow if increased tariffs on South Korean imports stir up trade frictions. The Japanese government’s response has been to talk about ‘retaliatory tariffs’ and damage South Korea-Japan relations as a whole in areas that have nothing to do with companies that are guilty of war crimes.


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