Briefing Room

2023 Mar. 22

Photo essay of President Yoon's trip to Japan

President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) on March 16 shakes hands with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shunsuke Takei upon arrival at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan. On the same day, the president held a bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, resuming "shuttle diplomacy" between the two sides that had been suspended for 12 years.President Yoon Suk Yeol (eighth from left) and first lady Kim Keon Hee (ninth from left) on March 16 pose for a group photo with a student choir from Tokyo Korean School at a luncheon roundtable with ethnic Korean residents of Japan at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. In the first event of his visit, he thanked and gave the students words of encouragement, saying, "The community of ethnic Korean residents of Japan has been a strong supporter of our country whenever their homeland was in need, and its members contributed to raising Korea's status in Japan by actively working in their respective fields without losing their pride even under difficult conditions."President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) on the afternoon of March 16 holds a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on their summit talks at the Prime Minister's Office of Japan in Tokyo. In his statement, President Yoon said his administration's announcement of a solution to the forced labor issue has laid the cornerstone for both nations to discuss the direction of future-oriented development. He also emphasized that the two leaders will continue active communication and cooperation regardless of format.President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the afternoon of March 16 give a toast at Rengatei, a Western-style restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district. The two leaders moved to this venue after having dinner with their spouses at Yoshizawa, a famed sukiyaki (Japanese hot pot) restaurant, to chat over beer, soju (traditional Korean alcohol) and omurice (Japanese omelet rice).First lady Kim Keon Hee (left) on March 16 makes traditional Japanese sweets with her Japanese counterpart Yuko Kishida at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo. Receiving an invitation to make the desserts, the Korean first lady presented traditional Korean confectionary, hangwa, as a gift and said, "Like how we shared our hearts today, I expect the people of our countries to interact more closely as well," thanking Japan's first lady for her hospitality and inviting her to Korea.President Yoon Suk Yeol (middle) on the afternoon of March 17 speaks at the Korea-Japan Business Roundtable held at the Japan Business Foundation in Tokyo. He was the first incumbent Korean leader since 2009 to attend the event featuring business leaders from both countries, according to the presidential office in Seoul. "To overcome complex crises facing the world, solidarity and cooperation among countries that share universal values are important," he said. "Let us jointly cooperate and respond to various global agendas like supply chains, climate change, cutting-edge science and technology, and economic security."First lady Kim Keon Hee on March 17 takes a photo with students at Tokyo Korean School in the city's Shinjuku district. "Politics has borders but not culture and education," she said. "I ask you, as symbols of exchanges between both countries, to play the role of a bridge to further strengthen bilateral relations."President Yoon Suk Yeol (second from left) on March 17 shakes hands with Yoshihide Suga, the former prime minister of Japan and now the incoming head of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians Union. The president also met leading figures from Korean-Japanese friendship groups like outgoing union chief Fukushiro Nukaga and Taro Aso, another former Japanese prime minister and now chair of a Japan-Korea committee, and exchanged constructive opinions on the direction of improving bilateral ties.President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) on March 17 gives a lecture on future generations of Korea and Japan at Keio University in Tokyo. Speaking to hundreds of students on a topic targeting those from both countries, he said, "Everyone here is part of the future generations of Korea and Japan," adding, "I expect all of you to consider the future and actively communicate with Korean youth." His speech was the final event of his visit and he flew back to Korea on the same day. korea.net

2023 Mar. 22

President urges 'future-oriented ties' with Japan in televised speech

resident Yoon Suk Yeol on March 21 said, "Korea-Japan ties can and must be a win-win relationship in which more is gained through joint efforts." In his 12th Cabinet meeting at the presidential office in Seoul, he said in his opening speech, "Korea-Japan ties are not a zero-sum relationship in which one side gains as much as the other loses." The president began his 23-minute speech, which was aired live on TV, by quoting a line from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: "If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future." "We must face and remember the past," he said. "But we should not get caught up in the past." "Korea-Japan relations must now move beyond their past," he added, mentioning reconciliation between Germany and France, which fought each other in World War I and II but are now the closest neighbors in Europe. "Japan has already expressed regret and apologies about historical issues dozens of times," he said, citing the joint Kim Dae-jung–Obuchi Declaration in 1998 and a statement in 2010 from then Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. "In the latest bilateral summit, the Japanese government made it clear that it will inherit the overall standpoint of previous administrations on awareness of history, including the joint Kim Dae-jung–Obuchi Declaration." On his administration's decision to use a third-party compensation plan for Korean victims of forced labour during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, President Yoon said, "We decided to promote the third-party compromise plan as a compromise that satisfies both the 1965 agreement that normalized diplomatic relations and the (Korean) Supreme Court ruling of 2018 (in favor of the victims)." "The government will do its best to heal the pain of the victims and their bereaved families." Turning to the future of ties, President Yoon said, "Now the governments of Korea and Japan must look back on themselves and make their own efforts to remove obstacles that hinder the normalization and development of bilateral relations." "(The two leaders) will further accelerate efforts to boost cooperation in a range of sectors like national security, economy and culture in line with public consensus on the need to jointly prepare for the future." On the results of his Japan visit, the president said, "I believe our government is headed toward the right direction." He mentioned Japan's removal of export restrictions on three key materials for semiconductor production; Korea's retraction of its 2019 withdrawal from the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement to lay the groundwork for raising cooperation in military intelligence among Korea, the U.S. and Japan; resumption of "shuttle diplomacy" between the leaders of Korea and Japan; and joint efforts to reopen a trilateral summit among Korea, Japan and China. "Now we are at a new turning point in history," the president said. "Normalization of Korea-Japan relations will produce a new sense of pride to our people in the end and reward our people and companies with big benefits." korea.net

2023 Mar. 22

Japan's PM invites President Yoon to attend G7 summit in May

President Yoon Suk Yeol has received an invitation from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to attend in May the summit of the Group of 7 (G7) major economies in Hiroshima, Japan. Presidential spokesperson Lee Do Woon on March 20 said in a news release that the invitation is considered "a positive measure following the result of the Korea-Japan summit." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a news release also said, "We welcome the Japanese government's invitation to our nation to this year's G7 summit," adding, "The invitation to the G7 summit is positively evaluated as a follow-up measure to our president's visit to Japan." "Our participation in the G7 summit is expected to be an opportunity to actively take part in efforts to overcome unprecedented complex crises and deepen solidarity and cooperation with G7 member countries that share universal values." During his visit to New Delhi, India, Prime Minister Kishida on March 20 told reporters of his willingness to invite President Yoon to the summit, Japan's Kyodo News and Yomiuri Shimbun reported. Slated for May 19-21, the summit invited the leaders of Korea, Australia, Vietnam, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Morocco and the Cook Islands, along with the heads of the International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Korea, Australia and Vietnam were invited as individual states while others received invitations in their capacity as chair countries of major regional organizations or multilateral global conferences. On March 16, President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida in Tokyo held summit talks on improving bilateral relations in a larger number of fields including national security, diplomacy and economy. korea.net

2023 Mar. 20

Presidential office calls President Yoon's Japan trip 'big success'

The Office of the President has hailed as "a big success" President Yoon Suk Yeol's visit to Japan from March 16-17. Presidential spokesperson Lee Do Woon on March 19 told a briefing, "The evaluation that the latest summit is a crucial starting point in shifting Korea-Japan ties toward a future-oriented relationship is common from the international community as well as both nations." "If diplomacy is about opening the heart of the other side and turning the tide in bilateral or multilateral relations, this visit to Japan by President Yoon was a big success." During his trip, President Yoon held talks not only with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida but also 12 prominent politicians, about 10 business leaders and hundreds of Keio University students. In a meeting with the president on March 17, former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said, "The president apparently had domestic political issues but decided to visit Japan this time," adding, "I highly applaud this decision made for the benefit of both countries and again welcome it." "During his visit to Japan, an atmosphere of agreement in public opinion arose in both nations, something rare in Korea-Japan relations," he said. "As a political leader, President Yoon made a pivotal decision for the future of bilateral ties." "(Through this visit), the Korean government is in a relatively advantageous position in Korea-Japan relations and formed an atmosphere that allows our leading position in international relations," he added. "The international community commends President Yoon's decision, and if Prime Minister Kishida responds, big changes for both the Korean Peninsula and the world can be expected." Spokesperson Lee said, "If Prime Minister Kishida appropriately responds, the three countries of Korea, the U.S. and Japan are expected to lead changes in national security and economy in the international community in going beyond the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia." korea.net

2023 Mar. 17

Japan to lift restrictions on export of 3 chip components to Korea

Japan will lift restrictions on the export of three semiconductor components to Korea for the first time in 44 months. In return, Seoul will withdraw its complaint filed against Tokyo with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on March 16 said Japan will scrap its restrictions on the export of fluorine polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and photoresist to Korea. The ministry on March 6 announced its policy toward bilateral consultations to restore trade conditions between both nations. From March 14-16, the ninth dialogue between export management directors-general was held between the ministry and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Seoul said the talks saw close exchanges of opinions on the effectiveness of export management like the export control systems of both countries, operation of relevant systems and follow-up management. The two sides decided to closely discuss measures to swiftly put Korea back on Japan's white list of countries receiving preferential treatment in applications for permits or procedures for export of cutting-edge technology and electronic components. In July 2019, Japan objected to the Supreme Court of Korea's ruling on compensation for Koreans forced to work by Japan during the latter's occupation of the Korean Peninsula. In retaliation, Tokyo imposed restrictions on the export of three components to its neighboring country. The three are crucial for Korea's semiconductor and display industries. As of 2019, Japan produced 90% of the world's fluorine polyimide and photoresist and 70% of hydrogen fluoride, thus the restrictions raised alarm in Korea's semiconductor sector at the time. In August 2019, Japan removed Korea from its white list and Seoul filed a complaint with the WTO the following month. Earlier in October and November 2018, the Supreme Court of Korea ruled that the Japanese companies Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries must pay compensation to Koreans forced to work for Japan during the latter's colonial rule of the peninsula. The ruling said the 1965 Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement, a bilateral government-level accord, did not exclude an individual's right to file a claim. korea.net