Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan met with Japan’s national strategy minister Friday to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two neighboring nations, including the possibility of a free trade agreement.
Koichiro Genba, Japan’s state minister in charge of national policy, arrived in Seoul on Thursday for a two-day visit that includes meetings with Foreign Minister Kim, Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon and other officials.
“Relations between South Korea and Japan have been in good shape recently and I hope your visit will serve as a good opportunity to further move the relations forward,” Kim told the Japanese minister at the start of their talks.
Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan (left) poses with Japan’s national strategy minister Koichiro Genba Friday in Seoul ahead of talks on bilateral cooperation including a free trade deal. (Yonhap News)
Genba said that his visit is aimed at outlining Japan’s position on an economic partnership agreement with South Korea. On security tensions, he said that the North’s shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island in November is unacceptable and that Tokyo strongly supports Seoul’s position.
Japan is eager to strike an EPA, which is a sort of a free trade deal, with South Korea.
The sides have held preparatory talks to lay the groundwork for future negotiations on an FTA, but the discussions have made little progress due in part to South Korea’s large trade deficit with Japan and disagreement over how much Japan should open its agricultural sector.