South Korea has asked the United States to intervene to resolve the ongoing row with Japan.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yoon Soon-gu and David Stilwell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, discussed ongoing issues affecting the South Korea-US alliance and the trilateral relationship with Japan, both ministries said Saturday.
In the talks held on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Thailand, the two senior officials pledged to maintain close coordination to ensure the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. They also reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation between the US, South Korea and Japan, the US Department of State said in a statement.
Seoul’s Foreign Ministry also said Yoon requested action from the US, as the conflict with Japan over history and trade continues to intensify.
“Deputy Minister Yoon explained our government’s efforts to come up with a rational resolution via dialogue and asked the US to play a role in improving South Korea-Japan relations,” the ministry said in a statement.
Bilateral ties between South Korea and Japan deteriorated to their worst level in recent months after Tokyo imposed export controls on South Korea that could significantly impact the supply chains of semiconductor and display companies here. The decision is widely viewed as retaliation after South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies are obligated to pay damages to South Korean victims of wartime forced labor.
Seoul also decided to withdraw from an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, the General Security of Military Information Agreement, citing lack of trust.
In the meeting, Yoon and Stilwell issued a fact sheet elaborating on how to pursue cooperation in accordance with both South Korea’s New Southern Policy and the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy.
“This cooperation is based on shared US-South Korea values and commitment to the principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international law, and ASEAN centrality,” the US Department of State said.
Stilwell is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Tuesday for a three-day trip here, as part of his Asia trip. The US official is expected to raise the issue of GSOMIA, which expires Nov. 22.
At an Oct. 26 press conference during his visit to Japan, Stilwell highlighted the benefits of GSOMIA for the trilateral relationship between the US, South Korea and Japan.