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Business associations resume exchanges with Japanese counterparts

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Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Chey Tae-won, front row, fourth from left, and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk, front row, third from left, applaud in a luncheon with representatives from the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians' Union at the 63 Building in Seoul, May 11. Courtesy of KCCI
Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Chey Tae-won, front row, fourth from left, and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Chung Jin-suk, front row, third from left, applaud in a luncheon with representatives from the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians' Union at the 63 Building in Seoul, May 11. Courtesy of KCCI

By Park Jae-hyuk

Korea's economic ties with Japan have shown signs of recovery recently under the presidency of Yoon Suk-yeol, after a long pause due to a diplomatic feud over historical issues and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to industry officials, Thursday.

The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) decided recently to push ahead with a meeting with the Japan Business Federation this year in Korea.

Since 1982, the two business lobby groups have held annual meetings in Korea and Japan in rotation, but the spread of the coronavirus caused a suspension of the event that had been held for nearly four decades to promote mutual understanding between businesspeople of the two neighboring countries.

As the previous meeting was held in Japan in 2019, the event is expected to take place in Korea this time.

Although the event had generally been held between September and November, there is a significant possibility of the meeting taking place next month, as the Japanese government has also indicated its intention to resume closer economic cooperation with Korea.

Earlier this week, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that travelers from Korea will be exempt from the required three-day quarantine in designated facilities if they test negative for COVID-19 upon arrival, quarantining instead in other accommodations.

After the announcement, the FKI issued a statement welcoming the decision.

"We hope the decision leads to improvements in relations between Korea and Japan," the lobby group said in a statement. "Korean businesspeople will also do their best to strengthen economic ties with Japan, in collaboration with the Japan Business Federation."

Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) Chairman Huh Chang-soo, front row fourth from left, and Japan Business Federation then-Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi, front row, fifth from left, pose during the last meeting of representatives from the two lobby groups in Tokyo in this 2019 file photo. Courtesy of FKI
Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) Chairman Huh Chang-soo, front row fourth from left, and Japan Business Federation then-Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi, front row, fifth from left, pose during the last meeting of representatives from the two lobby groups in Tokyo in this 2019 file photo. Courtesy of FKI

Last Wednesday, representatives from the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Korea Enterprises Federation also met former and incumbent Japanese lawmakers during their visit to Seoul.

"We will resume the meeting with leaders of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), which has been suspended since 2018," KCCI Chairman Chey Tae-won said. "We hope this small step of businesspeople contributes to the two countries' cooperation."

Chey added that he seeks to visit Japan next month to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the JCCI's founding.

The Korea-Japan Economic Association, led by Samyang Holdings Chairman Kim Yoon, will also host a video conference, May 30, with the Japan-Korea Economic Association, led by former Mitsubishi CEO Mikio Sasaki.

They will discuss economic cooperation between the two countries for the post-pandemic era.

Korea International Trade Association Chairman Christopher Koo will also attend the event.

During the Moon Jae-in administration, Korea's economic cooperation with Japan weakened, since the Japanese government restricted the export of key materials to Korea in retaliation against the Korean Supreme Court's ruling that ordered a Japanese firm to provide compensation for wartime forced labor.

However, the new administration has emphasized the importance of cooperation with Japan.

"Japan is Korea's closest neighbor and the most important partner that shares the values of liberal democracy and market economy," President Yoon said in his meeting with the Japanese delegation last Wednesday. "Restoring Korea-Japan relations immediately will mutually benefit the two countries."


Park Jae-hyuk pjh@koreatimes.co.kr


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