BANGKOK (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would encourage Washington's two biggest allies in Asia, Japan and South Korea, to "find a way forward" from their diplomatic confrontation this week meets her foreign minister in Bangkok.
US. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to reporters aboard his plane en route to Thailand from Joint Base Andrews, USA, on July 30, 2019. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
Relations between Japan and South Korea are probably the lowest since they are normalized in 1965, both sides threatened with trade actions that could disrupt the global supply of semiconductors.
Japan has already tightened restrictions on some high-tech materials, which is viewed in response to South Korean court rulings in which Japanese compensation for forced wartime was ordered to workers.
A US official said in Washington that the United States has called on both nations to consider signing a "Standstill Agreement" on their dispute to give them time to negotiate.
Pompeo was to meet the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea separately and then meet in a trilateral discussion on the sidelines of the Southeast Asian Nations Association Regional Forum in Bangkok, Thailand.
"We will encourage them to find a way forward," Pompeo said on Tuesday aboard the plane en route to Bangkok.
"They are both great partners of ours, both working closely with us to denuclearize North Korea, so if we can help them find a good place for each of them, we will do it for the United States
Asked about Pompeo's statement, Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo had expressed its attitude and thoughts on various topics in the United States.
"We are working closely with the US. We will strive to gain a correct understanding, "he said at a news conference.
Suga said he knew about the media report on the" standstill agreement, "but said there was" no such fact. "
The relationship between Japan and South Korea was due to negative action in a very serious situation of South Korea, "he added.
"It does not change our attitude that we continue to urge South Korea to take constructive action based on our consistent attitude on various issues."
A South Korean court ruled last year that Japanese companies had to pay compensation South Koreans had to work in Japanese factories during the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Japan tightened export restrictions on key high-tech materials used to make memory chips and billboards to South Korea, and thwarted its neighbors from managing sensitive items.
However, the curbs were also considered retaliation against the South Korean Supreme Court's decision last year. According to Japan, the decisions of the General Court are contrary to international law because the compensation was regulated under the 1965 Treaty.
South Korea is preparing for Japan's decision to delete it from a "white list" of countries that are subject to minimum trade restrictions.
Contains a pool copy. Reporting by Kaori Kaneko from Tokyo, letter from Matthew Tostevin and Elaine Lies; Edited by Michael Perry