(Bloomberg) — The finance ministers of South Korea and Japan met for the first time in nearly seven years, in another sign of thawing ties between the two countries.
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“Relations between Japan and South Korea have entered a new phase,” South Korean Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said, noting that dialogue between the two countries has expanded recently.
Korea would like to see communication channels with Japan’s government and private sector recovering faster, and cooperation over geopolitical risks and supply chain issues to strengthen, Choo added.
The meeting took place at a conference venue in South Korea where the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting is being held May 2 through May 5. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also set to visit South Korea on Sunday.
“Given the active dialogue that’s taking place at the summit level, I think it’s important that discussions are carried out in the finance track as well,” Japan’s Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said.
Suzuki also said Japan would like to respond together with South Korea to international issues related to North Korean missiles and Russia’s Ukraine invasion. Japan “fully agreed” on expanding its exchange with South Korea in sectors including technology and human resources.
The two countries agreed to continue to strengthen relations, and agreed to hold a formal finance ministers meeting in Japan this year, South Korea’s finance ministry said in a statement following the meeting. The talks are being resumed after being halted in 2016.
The two parties didn’t discuss a currency swap deal at the meeting, Suzuki told reporters after the meeting. Some market participants had anticipated discussions related to take place, since a swap deal between the two countries expired in February 2015.
South Korea and Japan have been working to rebuild trust after relations between the two countries turned their coldest in decades in the past few years. A dispute over whether Japan had sufficiently compensated for its past colonization of the Korean Peninsula threatened cooperation from trade to security.
South Korea, Japan Leaders Meet to End Feud and Heal Trade Rift
Hints of improving relations came after a formal summit between the two countries was held in March for the first time in 12 years. A security dialogue among the two countries’ senior officials took place in the following month for the first time in five years, and the two nations are currently making moves to tie ties on the trade front.
–With assistance from Erica Yokoyama.
(Updates with additional details, comments from Suzuki)
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