(LEAD) Kishida expresses hope for biz communities to lead efforts for closer bilateral cooperation

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed hope Monday that businesses will take the initiative in bolstering bilateral cooperation between South Korea and Japan during a meeting with Korean business leaders, according to industry sources.

Kishida apparently made the remarks during a closed-door roundtable meeting with chiefs of six major South Korean business associations earlier in the day, a session that took place on the last day of his two-day working visit to Seoul.

Kishida arrived in Seoul and held a summit with President Yoon Suk Yeol on Sunday, the second of its kind in less than two months, in a highly symbolic trip that marks a start for the restoration of bilateral relations long frayed over issues rooted in Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

At Monday’s meeting, which lasted about an hour, Kishida asked the South Korean business leaders to lead the efforts at the industry level to boost cooperation and exchanges between the two neighbors, according to people familiar with the matter.

The South Korean business leaders reaffirmed their commitment to revitalizing the two-way cooperation in areas like global supply chains and asked for Tokyo’s active support for business exchanges between the two countries, sources said.

“We shared remarks that each one of us should take the lead in doing their part with regard to the economic cooperation with Japan in the future,” SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who chairs the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told reporters after the meeting.

Other business lobbies that attended the meeting were the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), the Korea International Trade Association, the Korea Federation of SMEs, the Korea Enterprises Federation and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea.

Kim Yoon, chairman of Samyang Holdings Corp., who is heading the Korea-Japan Economic Association, also joined the session.

The meeting included a broad discussion on global supply chains, such as in energy and critical minerals, but not in detail, the sources said.

Following the summit Sunday, Yoon and Kishida said the two countries agreed to bolster semiconductor supply chains through closer coordination between Korean semiconductor manufacturers, and Japanese component and equipment makers.

At the March summit, Yoon and Kishida said the two countries agreed to resume “shuttle diplomacy,” or regular mutual visits, demonstrating a warming in bilateral ties after Seoul proposed compensating Korean forced labor victims without contributions from accused Japanese companies.

As part of the resolution to the row over forced labor, Seoul and Tokyo agreed to form a “future partnership fund” to promote private exchanges, and assigned the FKI and the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) to the job.

FKI acting chief Kim Byong-joon said after attending Monday’s meeting that he was flying to Japan this week to announce the formal launch of the steering committee for the fund.

Source: Yonhap News Agency