Seoul, Sep 24 (IANS) In his first-ever phone conversation with new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday urged that the two countries should find an “optimum” resolution to the wartime forced labour issue.
The call between the two leaders lasted for 20 minutes during which they also exchanged opinions on ways to develop bilateral relations, reports Xinhua news agency.
Moon noted that the two countries held different positions on the issue of South Korean victims of Japan’s forced labour during World War II, but expressed hope that Seoul and Tokyo will explore an “optimum” solution that can be accepted by their governments and all other parties concerned.
In response, Suga agreed to “encourage” dialogue efforts to resolve the pending issues.
Trade dispute between the two countries started after the South Korean Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that ordered some of Japanese companies to pay reparations to the South Korean victims who were duped or coerced into harsh labour without pay during WWII.
In an apparent protest against the ruling, Japan tightened control over its export to South Korea of three materials in July last year.
The materials are vital to producing memory chips and display panels, the mainstay of South Korean export.
In the following month, the two sides removed each other from their respective whitelists of trusted trading partners that are given preferential export procedure.