politics

U.S. urges Japan, S Korea to look at 'standstill agreement' for trade feud

27 Comments
By Roberta Rampton

The United States has urged South Korea and Japan to consider signing a "standstill agreement" on a serious diplomatic dispute to buy time for the countries to negotiate, a senior U.S. official told reporters on Tuesday.

Japan reined in exports of high-tech materials to South Korea as relations between the two countries worsened this month, fueled by a feud over compensation for South Koreans forced to work in Japan’s factories when Japan occupied the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

President Donald Trump said earlier this month that he wanted to help ease tensions between the two biggest U.S. allies in Asia. White House national security adviser John Bolton traveled to the two countries last week for discussions.

Washington is trying to be helpful in the dispute between its regional allies, the official said, noting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet with foreign ministers from Japan and South Korea at a regional conference in Bangkok on Thursday.

Japan could decide as early as Friday to drop South Korea from a "white list" of countries that enjoy minimum trade restrictions, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The standstill proposal would not resolve any of the differences between the two countries, but would forestall any further actions for a set period of time to allow for talks to take place, the official said.

The length of the proposed agreement had not been determined, the official said.

The United States is closely watching the dispute, particularly ahead of an Aug. 24 deadline for the two countries to recommit to an annual intelligence sharing agreement.

The bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement is automatically renewed every year and is primarily aimed at countering nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

Washington is also closely watching an expected Aug. 15 speech to be delivered by South Korean President Moon Jae-in marking the end of the Second World War, the official said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Lol, what a 'decisive' statement.

Not

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Washington is also closely watching an expected Aug. 15 speech to be delivered by South Korean President Moon Jae-in marking the end of the Second World War, the official said.

You can bet this is not going to go well. Moon's going to be too worried about losing support if he doesn't thoroughly trash Japan during this speech.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Maybe this isn't such a bad idea, IF (1) the idea of "stand still" includes any SK Court actions involving Japanese corporations in the forced conscription labor claims, and (2) The United States unconditionally guarantees SK's adherence to such an agreement. Frankly, without the latter, any "agreement" with SK is worthless as they have proven repeatedly. And unless the U.S. is prepared to apply pressure on SK to get over their anti-JP policy any "stand still" agreement can only delay the inevitable- the complete breakdown of the US-JPN-SK strategic alliance. Much to China. NK and Russia's delight.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

There is no evidence that President Moon Jae-in government has any respect for existing agreements, or signed Treaties.

Disputes must be settled by the agreed independent tribunal procedure, detailed in the 1965 Treaty articles and protocols.

Is there a deal, agreement or Treaty President Moon Jae-in hasn't reneged on? President Moon Jae-in is incapable of moving beyond his bitter, blinkered belligerent historic grievances.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

How can Korea ever expect Japan to negotiate in good faith ever again? When you make final agreements that you then pull out of, you destroy your reputation, you destroy your image, and you destroy your word. No one can ever trust what you say beyond the location where it is said. Everyone knows that once the Koreans have a few minutes to think they will pull out of any agreement. So why even waste time talking to them?

This is a direct result of inept leadership in Korea.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

If Japan proposed a** standstill agreement for the Iran and USA conflict, I wonder what Washington would say?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

These disputes cannot be permitted to “standstill”, so creating the intolerable situation that a political stand-off deteriorates and festers into a full blown diplomatic crisis.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Giving S. Korea more time when the pressure is getting to them would be a huge mistake.

If the US wants to help they need to address the elephant in the room which S. Korea refuses to talk about it with a 3rd country.

America doesn't have the best interest of Japan in this situation, Obama approved the 2015 deal as Final and Irreversible, where is Obama now? Where is America addressing such issue as Koreans backtracking on the deal?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

No clue why everyone is dodging the obvious. Japan needs to finally and officially perform acts of contrition on par with what Germany has done over the past 70 years and is STILL doing. That's it!! Quick payoffs doth not constitute such acts.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

No clue why everyone is dodging the obvious. Japan needs to finally and officially perform acts of contrition on par with what Germany has done over the past 70 years and is STILL doing.

They tried in 2015. The Koreans agreed with them as well. Until the Koreans didn't.

And now no one can bargain with the Koreans, since their word has lost all meaning as a result.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

You can bet this is not going to go well. Moon's going to be too worried about losing support if he doesn't thoroughly trash Japan during this speech.

Oh man, if people thought the North Korean regime's diatribe against Japan was bad, wait until Moon gets a chance to grandstand his anti-Japan case and stance during his speech. He will absolutely thrash Japan, either directly, indirectly, or both. The South Korean government is quite adept at scapegoating Japan in order to divert attention away from its own failures.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"The standstill proposal would not resolve any of the differences between the two countries, but would forestall any further actions for a set period of time to allow for talks to take place, the official said."

Bad idea. Contrary to what some nervous foreign policy "elites" in Washington may believe, I think it's better for the bitter, acrimonious disputes between Japan and South Korea to be out in the open. America's preference has always been to serve its own interests, namely by ordering Japanese and South Korean officials to sweep historical matters under the rug in the name of presenting a united front against North Korea and China.

This approach has clearly failed. South Koreans, in particular, want no part of it. If the price for joining any U.S.-led initiative to "contain" or "encircle" China is to set aside disputes with Japan, the South Koreans clearly want out and their hearts and minds just aren't in it. So I say let the chips fall where they may.

Where will this lead? We'll see. If Japan goes ahead and takes South Korea off that export-related "white list," then I guess South Korean authorities will proceed with seizing assets of Mitsubishi in Korea for the purpose of giving them as compensation to elderly forced laborers. And then maybe the GSOMIA, which was ratified only 3 years ago, won't be renewed next month.

None of this will mean a North Korean provocation against South Korea is inevitable. I doubt the sky will fall. By now, people should see that Kim Jong Un is a rational albeit brutal leader. Meanwhile, there will be a cathartic release of honne in Tokyo and Seoul. Better for both sides, in the long run.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

They tried in 2015

Are you hard at reading? I clearly said that quick payoffs do not constitute deep reflection on the cruel acts against humanity perpetrated against SoKo and others. I'm stumped that I actually have to spell this out.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

In the 'final and complete' agreement they both signed in 1965, the Japanese government asked if the compensation package of 500,000,000 USD they had agreed upon should be paid directly to the individuals concerned or to the SK government. The South Korean government replied that the compensation should be given over as a lump sum, which they would then distribute individually, being their own national internal affair.

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20190729-00000571-san-pol

 外務省は29日、いわゆる徴用工問題をめぐり、1965(昭和40)年に締結された日韓請求権協定の交渉過程で、韓国政府が日本側に示した「対日請求要綱」を公表した。要綱には元徴用工らへの補償請求が明記され、この要綱をすべて受け入れる形で計5億ドルの資金供与と請求権問題の「完全かつ最終的」な解決をうたった請求権協定が締結された。対日請求要綱は8項目で構成され、その中に「被徴用韓人の未収金、補償金及びその他の請求権の弁済を請求する」と記載されている。要綱と併せて公表された交渉議事録によると、1961(昭和36)年5月の交渉で日本側代表が「個人に対して支払ってほしいということか」と尋ねると、韓国側は「国として請求して、国内での支払いは国内措置として必要な範囲でとる」と回答した。韓国側が政府への支払いを求めたことを受け、日本政府は韓国政府に無償で3億ドル、有償で2億ドルを供与し、請求権に関する問題が「完全かつ最終的に解決されたこと」を確認する請求権協定を締結した。しかし、韓国最高裁は昨年、日本企業に元徴用工らへの損害賠償を命じた判決を確定させた。日本政府は「国際法違反」として韓国政府に早期の対応を求めている。

11 ( +11 / -0 )

In the 'final and complete' agreement

Refer to the comment above yours.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I clearly said that quick payoffs do not constitute deep reflection on the cruel acts against humanity perpetrated against SoKo and others.

Um, both nations agreed on it as a "final and irreversible" solution. Not one party, both parties. That's how negotiations work.

If Japan were the only one who agreed, then it would be an attempt at a quick payoff. But this was a negotiation between the nations for a "final and irreversible" solution. They negotiated in good faith, but then Korea decided to act in bad faith. And here we are.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Refer to the comment above yours.

Refer to the comment below yours.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Very easy solution, and it is not the only one.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

too little too late. south korea has zero credibility and deserves zero trust.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Wallace FredToday  08:37 am JST

No clue why everyone is dodging the obvious. Japan needs to finally and officially perform acts of contrition on par with what Germany has done over the past 70 years and is STILL doing. That's it!! Quick payoffs doth not constitute such acts.

In other words, Wallace, even if Japan is as generous as Germany and its "victims" are as relatively reasonable as the Europeans, it does not work. The bleeding and liability is endless just waiting for a new victim group to "discover" themselves.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Wallace FredToday  12:21 pm JST

Kazuaki given your disdain for the victims of Japan's war crimes, is it safe to assume you also consider the Jews today as being "victims" and being "discovered" now and then ?

Let me bite a bullet and round this answer off to a Yes. Sure, I can make some distinguishments such as actual gas chambers being located which is significantly better than a women claiming something 50 years after the fact, however...

The main question here is the efficacy of a more contrite apology. First, apologies at any level are societal rituals to settle the case of a real (or sometimes only perceived) wrong. If things aren't settled, the apology is useless and proferring it was a mistake.

Second, apologies on the State level are National Strategy. While a Head of State may make an apology in a nolo contendere basis, without ascertaining or contesting all the alleged facts, for him to do so without a calculation of gain and loss is betraying his State and his People.

In this comparison, Germany has already paid a lot more than Japan (something you people keep reminding me of), so that's already a much bigger Loss fraction. In the gain column, there's nothing but being compared favorably to Japan and worse the losses haven't even stopped.

I cannot wholeheartedly support any country making apologies when the results are thus.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Like I keep saying, the people out there most vocal about accusing all Japanese as being 'ignorant xenophobes who constantly white wash and hide history,' are the very same people that continue to do the same to Japan. Hypocrisy and double standards always and forever.

No matter how many times you try to reason with these people, they continue to ignore the facts and continue to blindly spout off their anti-Japan agendas.

What does any of that nonsense have to do with the current trade issues between South Korea and Japan? What does comfort women, what does German contrition, what does WW2 and colonialism, what does ANY of that have to do with Japan's move to remove South Korea from its 'white list?'

It is a proven fact that the South Korean trade ministry detected over 156 unauthorized exports of sensitive materials from 2015 to 2019 (and not a falsified Japanese claim like someone tried to infer earlier). No one here has given any valid reason as to why Japan should continue to allow South Korea to be on that white list. It is a privilege, NOT a right. And a country like South Korea that has for decades thumbed its nose at Japan, white washing and lying about what Japan did or didn't do in terms of compensation and apologies, indoctrinating its citizens in blind hatred of all things Japanese, flaunting illegal exports, has lost that privilege.

Again, why does South Korea 'deserve' this white list privilege above all other Asian countries (none of whom are on the white list), many of whom have treated Japan and Japanese with respect and civility for many decades?

And since the anti-Japan crowd refuses to answer this question, I'll answer it for them. The reason why the anti-Japan crowd so blindly backs South Korea in this trade issue, ignoring all facts and continually raising irrelevant issues about the past, is simply because they will say and do anything to bring discredit upon all things Japan. It is their irrational dislike of Japan that fuels all of their opinions. This trade issue is just another excuse for them to engage their prejudices. They'll say that South Korea needs to be on this white list because Japan needs to forever be appeasing and groveling to South Korea. To them, no apologies or compensation will ever be enough, so by default Japan will always be the 'bad guy' when it comes to South Korea.

Grow up!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

The main question here is the efficacy of a more contrite apology. 

Let's keep things simple. Germany has and is still paying for its horrendous acts against humanity. Japan just has to follow suit. Do exactly what Germany has done to atone. It's really that simple.

Germany has already paid a lot more than Japan (something you people keep reminding me of),

Of course. The reminder must always exist to ward off evil schemes. Absolutely NEVER AGAIN!!

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

In at least five cases that were exposed and penalized, Japanese exports to South Korea have ended up illegally in North Korea since South Korea was added to the white list in 2004, government documents show.

Japan will not reverse its plan to drop South Korea from its list.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

" perform acts of contrition on par with what Germany has done over the past 70 years and is STILL doing"

Ah, those nice, whiter than dazz Germans, everybody likes to pitch against Japanese un-repentance!

History knowledge, quo vadis?

"German officials acknowledged the atrocities as a genocide as early as 2004. But it has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations to the victims’ descendants, citing the hundreds of millions of euros of development aid it sent Namibia since the country first gained independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990."

https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/06/germanys-oft-forgotten-colonial-atrocities-in-africa-spark-new-lawsuit/

Japan should put the squeeze on this Koreans and not let go.

Until they (Japan) taste blood.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

German officials acknowledged the atrocities as a genocide as early as 2004. But it has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations to the victims’ descendants, citing the hundreds of millions of euros of development aid it sent Namibia since the country first gained independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990."

Nice try at that spin there. Ignorance is bliss however If you'd bothered to follow the conversation, you'd realize the context is related to acts against humanity perpetrated by japan during the second world war against not only Korea but several other countries. Nice try tho. Absolutely NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Saved by the bell

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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