Korean, Japanese business leaders discuss ties

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Korean, Japanese business leaders discuss ties


Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) Chairman Huh Chang-soo, fourth from left front row, and Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi, fifth from left front row, and other businessmen from Korea and Japan pose during a meeting held in Tokyo on Friday. [FEDERATION OF KOREAN INDUSTRIES]

The top business groups of Korea and Japan met for the first time in two years on Friday, agreeing to continue economic and industrial cooperation between the two countries to contribute not only to Asia but to the world’s economic development.

The joint statement released by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) stated the importance of continuing exchanges between the two countries in the private sector, regardless of the political and diplomatic tensions between Korea and Japan.

It added that the private businesses in the two countries will cooperate in areas with growth potential, as well as other markets.

The joint statement was released under the name of FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo and Keidanren Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi.

The meeting came at a time when the relationship between the Korean and Japanese governments has soured since trade tensions heighted after the Shinzo Abe administration restricted exports of essential components to Korea, including semiconductors and displays.

“While there have been numerous conflicts between Korea and Japan since relations between the two countries normalized in 1965, problems have been solved for future prospects,” said FKI Chairman Huh. “The immediate trade conflict needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”

The FKI chairman noted that economic relations between the two countries have been moving forward, including Japan’s direct investment in Korea, which has increased fivefold as of the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago, while companies from both countries are in discussions over the realization of a global hydrogen economy by 2030.

“There’s a need to cooperate, including exchanging talent and goods between the two countries during next year’s Tokyo Olympics so that the Games can be a success,” Huh said.

Many Korean businesses have repeatedly stressed the importance of continuing the exchange between the two countries in the private sector, despite the stalemate between the two governments.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong proposed solving the conflict between the two countries by expanding exchanges in the private sector to Fujio Mitarai, Keidanren’s honorary chairman, when visiting Japan in September.

The meeting between the top business advocacy groups is the first since 2017.

Last year, the meeting was downsized to a seminar, but this year an official meeting was arranged as there have been growing opinions that business leaders should take the initiative in improving relations.

The 13 Korean business leaders who attended the meeting in Tokyo included Kim Yoon, chairman of Samyang Holdings; Park Young-ju, chairman of Eagon Holdings; Ryu Jin, chairman of Poongsan; Kwon Tae-shin, vice chairman of the FKI; Lee Dong-hoon, CEO of Samsung Display; and Chang Yong-ho, CEO of SK Materials.

Ten Japanese businessmen including Nobuyuki Koga, chairman of Nomura Holdings, attended.

BY KANG KI-HUN [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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