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S Korea withdraws WTO plaint against Jap to improve bilateral relations – Reports

"I declared the complete normalization of GSOMIA at our summit a short while ago," Yoon said at a joint press conference, according to Yonhap.

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Seoul: South Korea has decided to withdraw its complaint filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) about Japan’s trade restrictions as part of an effort to normalize and restart strategic dialogue at various levels, South Korean media reported on Thursday.

The decision came after three days of bilateral talks, which kicked off on Tuesday, ahead of the two countries’ leaders summit in Tokyo on Thursday. Prior to Seoul’s move, Tokyo announced decision to lift export restrictions on three key semiconductor materials, namely fluorine polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride, to South Korea, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Upon arrival in Tokyo on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. At the meeting, the parties agreed to resume a military intelligence-sharing pact between the two countries, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), that was in a suspended state for several years.

“I declared the complete normalization of GSOMIA at our summit a short while ago,” Yoon said at a joint press conference, according to Yonhap.

The South Korean president noted that the two countries “should be able to share information on North Korea’s nuclear missile launches and trajectories, and respond to them.”

The relations between the two neighbors deteriorated in 2018, after South Korea accused Japan of using forced labor during its 1910-1945 colonial rule. The top court of South Korea ordered Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to compensate the victims of forced labor.

Following the ruling, Japan introduced trade sanctions against South Korea, while Seoul responded by submitting a complaint to the WTO and even wanted to withdraw from the GSOMIA.

The situation started to change for the better after Yoon assumed office as South Korea’s president in May 2022 and set a course for mending ties with Tokyo in order to improve both bilateral relations and the trilateral security partnership with Washington.

Last week, the South Korean government proposed a compensation plan for the victims of forced labor during the Japanese rule through a South Korean public foundation instead of Japanese companies, as originally prescribed by court. While some of the victims rejected the proposal, Tokyo welcomed it.

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