South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called for close cooperation of businesses of South Korea and Japan, especially in cutting-edge fields of semiconductors and batteries, during a meeting of entrepreneurs of the two countries, Friday.
The two biggest business groups of South Korea and Japan, Korean Federation of Industries and Japan Business Federation -- commonly known as Keidanren -- hosted the Korea-Japan Business Roundtable on the second day of Yoon's two-day visit to Tokyo. Yoon held a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida the day before.
“To overcome the complex crisis the world faces, it is important for the countries that share common values to join forces and cooperate. South Korea and Japan should work together to handle various global agendas, such as securing supply chains, climate change, advanced science technologies and economic security," Yoon said.
“We need to cooperate especially in the fields of cutting-edge technologies and new industries of digital transition, semiconductors, batteries and electric vehicles."
From South Korea, 12 business leaders attended the roundtable, including the chiefs of the top four conglomerates, Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun and LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo.
From the Japanese side, 11 leaders took part, including Sumitomo Chemical Chairman Masakazu Tokura and Mitsui & Co Chief Executive Officer Tatsuo Yasunaga.
It is the first time in 14 years for a South Korean president to attend the event, the last of which was attended by former President Lee Myung-bak in June 2009. It is also the first time the leaders of Korea’s four top conglomerates have attended the event in 20 years.
As the two biggest business groups announced it would establish future partnership funds the day before, Yoon said the funds will contribute to increasing exchanges among the people of future generations and that the bilateral relations will grow stronger when the two countries improve their understanding of each other.
FKI and Keidanren have agreed to separately create the future partnership fund with contributions of 1 billion won ($762,000) each. With the funds, the two groups will carry out research and projects to promote economic cooperation.
The business leaders welcomed the latest agreement of the two countries, where Japan decided to lift export restrictions on key semiconductor materials to Korea, and Korea said it will withdraw its complaint filed with the World Trade Organization against the export curbs.
"We welcome the normalization of the shuttle diplomacy of the leaders of the two countries after 12 years, and we appreciate the agreement to remove the export restrictions, which have been a barrier to trade between the two countries," Kim Byong-joon, acting chief of the KFI, said at the event.
The KFI said it relayed a number of requests to the government: to bolster economic security alliance; support mutual interchange of young people; build a joint ecosystem of startups; and to cooperate in the global rule setting movement.
The Japanese entrepreneurs in attendance also said they had a high assessment of the two countries' commitment to progress.
"The Japanese business circle will push for cooperation of the two countries, support the expansion of trade and investment, and innovation in the fields of digital and eco-friendly projects," Keidanren said.