Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Chey Tae-won (forth from left in the front row) applaud after a luncheon with visiting Japanese lawmakers in Seoul on Wednesday. On his right is Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the People Power Party and on the left is Fukushiro Nukaga, chairman of the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union. (KCCI)
Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Chey Tae-won on Wednesday stressed his desire to help mend the frayed ties between Seoul and Tokyo, saying their partnership will play a role in tackling ongoing geopolitical uncertainties.
“Amid ever-changing global situations, hit by supply chain disruptions and the Russia-Ukraine war, the bilateral partnership between South Korea and Japan has become more crucial than ever,” Chey said at a luncheon with a group of Japanese lawmakers.
“Upon the launch of the new government, expectations are already high for our improved ties.”
Chey, who doubles as chairman of SK Group, took office as the head of the nation’s largest business lobby, representing some 190,000 members in March last year.
He said one of the first things he did as KCCI chief was sending an overture to his Japanese counterpart proposing stronger bilateral exchanges.
The luncheon was attended by 10 Japanese lawmakers who are members of the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union, led by Fukushiro Nukaga of the Liberal Democratic Party. They were visiting Seoul to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Yoon Suk-yeol held Tuesday.
Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the People Power Party, who led Yoon’s policy consultation delegation to Japan last month, also joined the meeting. At the time, Chung delivered Yoon’s letter to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“The Gimpo-Haneda flight routes are expected to be resumed next month. Spring is coming in the relations between the two countries,” he added.
Chey said he plans to visit Japan next month to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He also asked for Japan’s support for Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo. Chey was recently named as the head of a civilian committee supporting the Korean port city’s Expo bid.
In a survey by the KCCI released on April 25, 45.4 percent of its members responded that the Seoul-Tokyo ties will improve upon the inauguration of the new government. The figure is a drastic jump from 12.9 percent surveyed October last year.
More than half the respondents, or 50.4 percent, said they were willing to increase trade volumes and investments in Japan business once the fractured ties are improved.
As for the most urgent issues to be handled, 39.4 percent picked trade disputes, followed by summit talks (30.3 percent), economic and cultural exchanges (17.1 percent), regional alliance membership (5.5 percent) and a currency swap deal (2.8 percent).
“Japan is our fifth-largest export partner but the trade volume has continued to decline,” said Lee Sung-woo, head of the international affairs division at KCCI. “We hope Wednesday’s meeting can become a stepping stone toward a Korea-Japan partnership.”
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org