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S. Korea, Japan to hold talks over monthslong trade row

South Korea said Thursday it will hold talks with Japan in Tokyo later this month in the latest attempt to settle their monthslong trade row stemming from shared history.

The two countries will hold the director-general level talks in Tokyo on Dec. 16, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The announcement came after Seoul and Tokyo held a preparation gathering in Vienna on Wednesday.

The upcoming meeting will mark the first official gathering of trade officials between the two Asian neighbors after Seoul "conditionally" suspended the termination of the General Security of Military Information Agreement with Japan last month.


Bilateral ties between Seoul and Tokyo have been icy since Japan imposed restrictions on exporting three key industrial materials critical for South Korea's chip and display industries in July. Japan later removed South Korea from its list of trusted trading partners.

"We agreed to hold an in-depth discussion that can contribute to settling the pending issue between the two countries," the ministry said in a statement.

During the upcoming meeting in Tokyo, participants are expected to discuss their policies related to transfers of sensitive technologies and export control programs, it added.

Seoul views the measures as economic retaliation against the country's Supreme Court ruling that ordered compensation for Koreans forced into labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo, however, claims that its measures came in response to South Korea's alleged lax trade control of strategic goods, although it never provided evidence to back up the claim.

While South Korea has not yet suffered any significant damage from Japan's new export policy, the discord has emerged as a major uncertainty for South Korean businesses, especially for chip and display makers.

In line with efforts to normalize the two's relationship, South Korea also decided to suspend an ongoing legal dispute process at the World Trade Organization over Japan's export restrictions on key industrial materials.

Seoul and Tokyo shared a consensus that the upcoming meeting will help their understanding of each other's export control system, according to the ministry.

South Korea earlier said its eventual goal is to normalize all measures imposed against each other and return to the way things were before the situation began in July. (Yonhap)