South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony to mark the 74th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan on Thursday. Photo: Jung Yeon-je /Pool via AP
politics

Moon offers olive branch to Japan to end trade dispute

56 Comments
By Kim Tong-Hyung

South Korean President Moon Jae-in offered an olive branch to Japan to end an ongoing trade dispute Thursday, saying Seoul will "gladly join hands" if Tokyo wants to talk.

Moon in a nationally televised speech also downplayed the threat posed by North Korea's recent short-range ballistic launches and expressed hope that Washington and Pyongyang would soon resume nuclear negotiations.

"If a country weaponizes a sector where it has a comparative advantage, the order of peaceful free trade inevitably suffers. A country that accomplished growth first must not kick the ladder away while others are following in its footsteps," Moon said in reference to Japan.

"If Japan better late than never chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands," he said.

Moon's speech at a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese rule at the end of World War II came amid heightened public anger and diplomatic fallout over Tokyo's recent moves to impose trade curbs on South Korea.

Seoul has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to target its export-dependent economy and retaliate against South Korean court rulings calling for Japanese companies to offer reparations to South Koreans forced into labor during World War II. Tokyo's measures struck a nerve in South Korea, where many still harbor resentment over Japan's ruthless colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

After threatening stern countermeasures and declaring that South Korea would "never lose" to Japan again, Moon has taken a more conciliatory tone over the past week as there was relief in Seoul that the impact of Japan's trade measures might not be as bad as initially thought.

There have also been concerns that the government's nationalistic calls for unity were allowing public anger toward Japan to reach dangerous levels.

Nevertheless, tens of thousands of people were expected join anti-Japan protests planned for Thursday, including an evening candlelit vigil near Seoul's presidential palace.

Thousands of protesters dressed in raincoats marched in heavy rain toward the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. They carried signs that said "Apologize for War Crimes" and "Compensate Forced Laborers."

"I have a lot that I want to say, but I can't," said an emotional Lee Chun-sik, 95, the only survivor among four plaintiffs who won a landmark compensation case last October against Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., decades after being forced to work at the company's steel mills during World War II.

Lee thanked the marchers for taking part.

The trade dispute comes as South Korea's relations with North Korea worsen. Pyongyang has been ignoring Seoul's calls for dialogue and in recent weeks test fired a slew of new short-range weapons that potentially threaten the South.

Experts say the North's recent launches are aimed at building leverage for nuclear talks with the United States, and pressuring Seoul to coax major concessions from Washington on its behalf.

"In spite of a series of worrying actions taken by North Korea recently, the momentum for dialogue remains unshaken," Moon said.

He called for new negotiations between the Koreas and the U.S. "at the earliest possible date."

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56 Comments
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So South Korea’s government encourages it’s people to lash out in blind fury towards Japan for something they one week later, admit isn’t even a big deal. Then in the midst of government sponsored anti-Japan protesting they encourage Japan to hold trade talks? What is wrong with this country?!

27 ( +39 / -12 )

Moon is starting to sweat. Let him!

22 ( +28 / -6 )

Mon the Goon! First you create an issue where there was none, then you let it blow up, then you want to start the talks, just to show everyone how good of a leader you are. All of this just for increasing your chances of re-election. Just that this time you miscalculated how strongly Japan will react to your country's unjust behaviour. Enjoy getting your arse kicked by Samsung and LG, and you caused these problems.

20 ( +27 / -7 )

re: "If a country weaponizes a sector where it has a comparative advantage, the order of peaceful free trade inevitably suffers. A country that accomplished growth first must not kick the ladder away while others are following in its footsteps," Moon said in reference to Japan.

"If Japan better late than never chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands," he said.

Wait a minute, Japan didn't start this issue and blow it out of proportion. Now Moon is trying to save face as opposition to his methods of ruling SK are coming to an unfavorable stature of the ruling power. Everyone has someone to answer too..Moon included...

16 ( +22 / -6 )

lol, you can't make this stuff up.

Obviously the anti-Japanese furor Moon envisioned happening against Japan, simply did not work this time, much to the unhappiness of the anti-Japan crowd on this website.

A lot of credit must go to the South Korean people, many of whom bucked the trend and refused to make it racially motivated hatred, which the SK government was no doubt attempting to fuel. Sure, many South Koreans boycotted goods and whatnot, but protests have been relatively peaceful, and South Koreans themselves have spoken out against this nonsense.

16 ( +26 / -10 )

I can’t understand this Moon as well.

First he unleashes the hell out against Japan and he wants to get closer again?

How about from first instance have a more civilized and less agressive way to protest?

23 ( +26 / -3 )

"If Japan better late than never chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands," he said.

He just had to get that jab in. Why should Japan bother to give you the time of day when you can’t even get a single statement out without poking them in the eye.

26 ( +31 / -5 )

I think that President Moon is behaving in a very statesman like manner.

(After all, before s civil court case each party is usually given the opportunity to try to sort things out amacably).

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

You've got something, it's good, it's beneficial to you, then you find a small defect with it, so you smash it on the ground, after that you cry because you realize that that nice thing you had is now broken. The solution? Try and fix it like it was before, but, instead of looking like the destroyer, you try to evade blame by making yourself look like a peacemaker.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

extanker:

better late than never

Beat me to it, that provocative little phrase stuck out like a sore thumb for me too.

Truth is, though, someone has to stop this sooner rather than later. It ought to be Moon, as he's the one who started this whole thing, and should bear the blame for the two self-immolations by S Korean citizens whipped up by all this fervor. Problem is there are now serious ongoing issues between Japan and S Korea that making speeches is not going to fix. For example, how is Moon going to address the issue of the three Japanese companies whose assets have been seized?

20 ( +24 / -4 )

like I said, child nation Korea caved, they really had no chance to start

17 ( +21 / -4 )

Peace n cooperation is alys better though. Moon might soon move into SK president retirement residency with other Ex president bt Jpn should b xtra careful of SK policy of take n insult law

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Japan should wait until SK announces a tangible offer they can discuss before they actually sit at the table so not to waste time.

Since it went this far how about having ICJ be as arbitrator and settle everything once and for all including the sovereignty of Takeshima.

As for white nation status wait three years to see if ROK actually follows rules and negotiate from that point.

Whatever the case Moon needs to be removed from office.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

Jpn should never make 1 on 1 treaties or policies with sk n learn from the past experiences with sk. Settling it in ICJ would b the best now otherwise sk wont show up in ICJ

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Korea is acting like the tough kid who picked a fight with the playground bully and is now regretting it crying for mercy. If Moon is serious, he needs address a lot more than just the trade war. He should start by releasing the assets of the Japanese companies and accept the treaties that have been signed and compensations paid. Then he needs to move onto banning the anti-Japan protests and locking up the extremists attacking Japanese companies in Korea. He's gonna need a lot more than an olive branch. He'll need a thousand year old redwood tree.

20 ( +23 / -3 )

Too little, too late. This is so predictable by Moon. He knows the SK economy is now on the edge of a cliff nearing Great Depression. Or , perhaps, he know a military coup is coming in the next 1-2 months.

Unless Moon unequivacally recognizes the 1965 accord as final, and overturns the High Court "ruling", there will be no Japan at the table for negotiating.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Moon offers olive branch to Japan to end trade dispute

Japan's trade management is an entirely domestic issue and not disputable.  What SK should offer is not olive branch but explanation where the missing sensitive material went.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

LOL too funny

Now I understand the popularity of Korean soap opera dramas.

This is one is the best.

As the Kimchi turns,

In this weeks episode of the As the Kimchi turns, our naive and simple hero Moon gets himself into hot water by angering his Chaebol masters has to beg the Japanese for forgiveness for his error in judgement and bad decision making.

He will also get a surprise to find out that Kim Jong Un is actually his long lost twin...

18 ( +20 / -2 )

The U.S. Agrees with Japan about the 1965 aggrement.

WTO did not take S. Korea side.

Then they go to U.S. Daddy and his not on their side either.

S. Korea needs to learn how to keep a promise/agreement signed with Japan. Otherwise no matter what we sign, no matter what the Korean says. They can always go back on it.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Japan's trade management is an entirely domestic issue

If you're talking about Hokkaido trading with Aomori, then yes it would be entirely domestic. If you're talking about Japan trading with another country...

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

When will Japan join hands with northeast Asians for a prosperous homeland ?

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

> When will Japan join hands with northeast Asians for a prosperous homeland ?

Actually Japan will lead northeast Asians in propsersity

simple as that

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Japan already join hands with almost every other Asian country in the region even China.... S. Korea is left alone with their crazy twin brother.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

peppy kids, in what way ?

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

AlexBecu, you can do all hands joining but without neighbors, value subtracted.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

peppy kids, in what way ?

In a prosperous way of course

8 ( +11 / -3 )

peppy kids, good answer. How is economy going recently ?

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

Caucasians, terrible mistake. Do you see black hair Caucasians, with yellow skin ?

Congratulations you won the most racism comment in the whole thread

And yes I have seen people of this description before.

Colonial mentality still is prevailing, unfortunately

Tell that to Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan( real China)

8 ( +11 / -3 )

peppy kids, actually it is Japanese who claimed it, as I said it is a mistake, educational mistake. Of course Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are real China, you got that right.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Akie

If you truly believe what your saying, then ignoring S. Korea aggressive moves towards Japan is not pro East Asia. Bullying Japan, seizing Japanese assets or going back on agreements signed is not Pro East Asia.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

For the people interested,

Korea have a democratic Constitution, meaning there is separation of power. So The President can not over-rules a court decision.

https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_protect/@protrav/@ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_117333.pdf

CHAPTER VVVV THE COURTS*

Article 101 •Judicial power shall be vested in courts composed of judges. •The courts shall be composed of the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the State, and other courts at specified levels. •Qualifications for judges shall be determined by Act.

Article 103 •Judges shall rule independently according to their conscience and in conformity with the Constitution and Act.

If the Japanese company contest the validity of the decision, they have the possibility to appeal. Japanese government should therefore provide them any document needed to back their position. This include all document related to the 1965 treaty, document related to deposit by the Japanese companies for the unpaid wages, and any others relevant document.

South Korea already disclosed 1200 documents related to 1965 treaty, years ago. As the Korean Court ruling involved, they was ground for the claim. If Japanese government claim there is not, it have to back up with actual proof.

South Korea offered to make a join funds between Korea, Japan, Japanese companies which used forced laborer and South Korean companies which got benefice from the treaty. Japanese government refused to even discuss it.

Japanese government say it will go to IJC, Korea government said they preferred diplomatic settlement. The IJC is not competent for case between company and individual but they still can provide a point of view. To rules, they need the 2 States involved to agree to them ruling, if one of the State refuse the other one can still go to the ICJ. Then the ICJ will ask the one refusing to explain its refusal. Japanese government did not contact the ICJ.

That is the situation for the court ruling.

The role of the Court decision is not clear since before some Japanese official said that could happen then when it happened some other one say it was not because of it

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Japan-sanctions-threat-on-South-Korea-sparks-supply-chain-fears

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201907050037.html

Some consider it is Japan government meddling politics and business and some that is was a long planed move.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/japans-economic-sanctions-on-korea-part-of-a-phased-plan/

In the end, as Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga say :

"We cannot help but say the relationship of trust has been severely damaged,"

So the spat extended to mutual removal of list of trusted partner.

Now, Moon is trying to make a move to open a door against further escalate. Let see how Abe react : will he close it, accept to go for it or open another one.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

Recommend Abe to take the initiative in kind, and call immediately a 4 party conference to resolve historical, economical, securitical issues altogether.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

"If Japan better late than never chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands," he said.

I've been saying from start that Moon was going to go down in South Korean history as the President that destroyed his country both politically and economically. It now seems he's finally starting to get a clue. To turn this around at this late stage, Moon would have to do a 180 degree turn on multiple issues, and more. I do not believe Japan should entertain any discussion with South Korea unless they accept that the 1965 Treaty ended all WWII issues, and therefore the current rulings against Japanese companies are invalid, reinstate the "irreversible" 2015 Comfort Women Agreement and get the money that Japan paid into the hands of the surviving Comfort Women, make a sincere effort to end the anti-Japan bias and revisionism found in the South Korean textbooks and education system*, take the power away from the Chongdaehyup to direct South Korean foreign policy towards Japan and denounce the spreading of biased hate by placing CW monuments in places other than within South Korea, clean up the ROK military so that SK can conduct itself as a trustworthy member of the US-JPN-SK alliance, and become a signatory nation that accepts ICJ jurisdiction in territorial dispute matters. The new Emperor of Japan just gave a speech using the word 反省 to his people and country. Time for the people of South Korea to engage in 반성 themselves, starting with their leaders.

*Former President Park Geun-Hye, who agreed to the 2015 CW Agreement was doing just this, before she was taken down from office.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

SK is the one refusing to settle it in ICJ not Jpn as they know once it is solved SK’s card to black mail Jpn is gone for ever . If SK judicial is diggerent from politics the why the hell they dont honor international treaties just because they r national court sk judiciary cant b irrational to international treaties

13 ( +15 / -2 )

The Supreme Court settled the case and there's nothing that any South Korean president can do anything about it. What seems to escape right wing Japanese politicians is the extent to which Koreans will not forget about the war atrocities and wrongs suffered. Unlike most Japanese who are simply ignorant about Japan's atrocities during WWII, most Koreans have family stories about ills suffered during Japanese occupation. Japan will never be able to just side step this responsibility without admission and compensation akin to truth and reconciliation endeavors in South Africa, Chile, Germany, etc. For those of you who think Japan already apologized, as a general principal you can't apologize for things you deny all at the same time. E.g. Abe will made statements of remorse or regret over comfort women.... while claiming that the women were paid prostitutes. That's not an apology nor admission.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

It is still the best way forward for northeast Asians unite, take care each others.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

In case people are not getting it, Moon is speaking from the position of strength.

1) Uniqlo sales down 70%. Korea was the 3rd largest market for Uniqlo.

2) Japanese beer import down 98.1%.

3) Japanese auto sales down 50%

4) Korean tourists to Japan down 50%.

5) In certain markets, Korean tourists are down 90%.

6) Japanese material suppliers are pledging to move their factories from Japan to Korea to evade Abe san.

-15 ( +4 / -19 )

Fool me once, shame one you, fool me twice shame one me? There wont be a third time...

7 ( +12 / -5 )

South Koreans need to get over their past and move forward. If they don't like the prior settlements, take it up with the SK govt, not Japan.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

1) Uniqlo sales down 70%. Korea was the 3rd largest market for Uniqlo.

Don't stores in Korea hire local workers, what will happen to them?

13 ( +14 / -1 )

In case people are not getting it, Moon is speaking from the position of strength.

Oh that's rich. Korea is winning because they're importing less beer and cars and less Koreans are visiting Tokyo Disney. The mental gymnastics you do to come up with this stuff is amazing.

Moon is backpedaling like a madman. In case you're not getting it.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

"Korea have a democratic Constitution, meaning there is separation of power. So The President can not over-rules a court decision."

People defending the South Korean government's position on this matter keep writing this sort of thing, condescendingly alluding to the idea that South Korea is a genuine democracy that Japanese politicians can't comprehend. But the story is a bit more complicated than that. Five of the 14 justices on the South Korean supreme court were appointed by President Moon in 2017 and 2018. From my perspective, it looks like he deliberately packed the court with justices whom he knew would rule in favor of requiring Mitsubishi & Co. to pay money to Korean forced laborers.

So while President Moon cannot constitutionally overrule a decision of the South Korean supreme court, to me it sure looks like he helped engineer a ruling against Mitsubishi by packing that court with particular justices. Moon helped deliberately manufacture this confrontation and crisis in relations with Japan. In short, he clearly wanted all this.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I know Moon is very good leader. I know Abe too, very intimacy. Japan and neighbors should get alone, and I am ready to help. personal meeting ?

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Moon's a North Korean puppet, probably more so than Trump. South Korea had better be careful they don't get sucked into NK's communist orbit. Goodbye human rights! Hello gulags! Then everybody in the South'll be saying, "WTF happened?!" By then it'll be too late.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

When will Japan join hands with northeast Asians for a prosperous homeland ?

@Akie. I remember many years ago the the UK joined the EU, I overheard two teachers talking.

I remember one saying "it's sometimes bad enough to get 2 people to agree on anything, let alone 9. Little did we know that the EU would grow to 28.

I hope that Japan and SK resolve these issues, truely.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It's appalling that Mr. Moon is back pedaling after the commotion he caused a few months ago. Japan just sat back and took the insults, knowing that they are stronger economically. I think what moved Mr. Moon is the recession that is brewing world-wide, especially yesterday when the U.S. market crashed big time. Trump of course, is largely to blame for the tariff war with China. With NK snubbing the South, I was waiting for Mr. Moon to cave in. Trump is hopeless as an ally to both Korea and Japan, and wants to call off joint military exercises per NK's threat or request. Get real, Mr. Moon and make a distinction between your allies and enemies, and try to ride out the pending recession.

Oh, and an awful accident happened in Hawaii involving a Kia car, and parents of the victim are suing Kia Motors and the rental car company. This will only add to SK's economic woes if Kia car sales are weakened.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

@extanker

Nowhere did they 'defeat' the US with their 'excellent traditional cannons'.

You win by holding your position.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_expedition_to_Korea

American military victory, but diplomatic failure[1]

Withdrawal of American forces

Korea retains its isolationist policies

Eventual agreement and signing of the United States–Korea Treaty of 1882

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

MASSWIPEToday  02:30 am JST

"Korea have a democratic Constitution, meaning there is separation of power. So The President can not over-rules a court decision."

People defending the South Korean government's position on this matter keep writing this sort of thing, condescendingly alluding to the idea that South Korea is a genuine democracy that Japanese politicians can't comprehend. But the story is a bit more complicated than that. Five of the 14 justices on the South Korean supreme court were appointed by President Moon in 2017 and 2018. From my perspective, it looks like he deliberately packed the court with justices whom he knew would rule in favor of requiring Mitsubishi & Co. to pay money to Korean forced laborers.

So while President Moon cannot constitutionally overrule a decision of the South Korean supreme court, to me it sure looks like he helped engineer a ruling against Mitsubishi by packing that court with particular justices. Moon helped deliberately manufacture this confrontation and crisis in relations with Japan. In short, he clearly wanted all this.

Bingo! unprecedented appointment from just a chief judge at the smallest regional court jumping onto ( without experience at High court) a chief judge at supreme level. South Korea's constitutional court is now in the process of examining legality of 2015 CW agreement. 3 out of 9 judges there appointed by the president ( Moon bulled through his appointments of two judges already in April this year), other 3 are appointed by a chief Judge at supreme court (who are appointed by the president) and remaining 3 is appointed by the Diet.

The outcome would be obvious. So much for independence of Korean judiciary.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Maybe Moon should try extending competent leadership, and a proposal about what the 2015 agreement his administration ripped up should be replaced with.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

In the end, Japan will pick up the olive branch and the trade disputes will be resolved. That is the fate, Japan can't escape from northeast Asia, as simple as that.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

In the end both SK and Japan will come together to create a united front against China.

as simple as that.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Olive branch or olive oil Jpn should b extra careful this time and settle the dispute with ICJ as SK will not honor the treaties as soon as they need free BOE

2 ( +3 / -1 )

South Korean President Moon Jae-in Government cannot be trusted to honour present Treaties or Agreements.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in cannot be relied upon to honour future so called talks .

President Moon Jae-in is a opportunist without the realisation of his own government political and economic failures.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Kim Jong-Un said today, that SK/Moon has no further use in the discussions between NK and America now that Trump is his new best penpal.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Samit

Nowhere did they 'defeat' the US with their 'excellent traditional cannons'.

You win by holding your position.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_expedition_to_Korea

Unfortunately my original post was deleted, but we both know that's not quite how it went.

You don't 'win' just by 'holding your position'... The Korean cannons did little to no damage to the American ships. There was no point in pushing any further. The unprovoked attack led to a battle where hundreds of Koreans lost their lives, multiple Korean forts were captured and just three Americans were killed. That wasn't a win, the Koreans were soundly defeated.

The goal of the conflict wasn't to occupy Korea so the Americans accomplished what they came to do (punish the Koreans for their attack) and when the Koreans were too ignorant to negotiate, they left. With a decisive military victory.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Imperialist followers, isn’t it a sin to deny history, hide crimes, and even insult and retaliate against innocent people?: “The International Commission of Jurists, in its report of a mission on "comfort women" published in 1994, states that the treaties referred to by the Japanese Government never intended to include claims made by individuals for inhumane treatment. It argues that the word "claims" was not intended to cover claims in tort and that the term is not defined in the agreed minutes or the protocols. It also argues that there is nothing in the negotiations which concerns violations of individual rights resulting from war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Commission of Jurists also holds that, in the case of the Republic of Korea, that the 1965 treaty with Japan relates to reparations paid to the Government and does not include claims of individuals based on damage suffered.” … Do not give up to be a human being having Intelligence, conscience, and partnership.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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