Korea Inc. calls on Suga to relax border restrictions
The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) has asked Japan to ease border restrictions for businesspeople, hoping that the appointment of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will help to repair the two countries' business relations.
Huh Chang-soo, chief of FKI, sent a congratulatory letter to Suga on Friday, the FKI announced Sunday. In the letter, Huh asked that border restrictions are relaxed as the business community in both countries struggles because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“On behalf of the Korean business community, I would like to congratulate you on your inauguration as prime minister of Japan,” wrote Huh in the letter. “The international community is battling an unprecedented crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic. I have no doubt that you will be able to overcome these great challenges.”
Huh said relations between Korea and Japan has soured due to “different perspectives on history,” and Covid-19, which has limited interpersonal exchanges, created a further rift between the two countries.
"As businesspeople are unable to cross each other’s borders, economic cooperation has also declined,” Huh added. “It is fervent wish of the Korean business community that your assumption of the high office will provide momentum to resolve these conflicts and breathe new and future-oriented life into the bilateral relationship and economic cooperation between Korea and Japan. We would like to ask for your unfettered support to lifting Covid-19 related mutual travel restriction in order to facilitate exchange, thereby expanding bilateral trade
Huh’s letter was delivered several days after Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong met Koji Tomita, Japanese ambassador to Korea, on Sept. 10. Details of the two’s discussion were not made public, but Lee reportedly also appealed against the border restrictions.
They are also known to have discussed ways business cooperation could be improved between the two neighboring countries.
Japan tightened border restrictions in April with the intention of limiting imported Covid-19 cases.
Some restrictions have started to be relaxed, but not between the two countries.
With Singapore, Japan has agreed to open borders for short-term business travelers starting this month. Businesspeople are exempted from a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival.
Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduced a so-called fast track procedure with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month, with the goal of making visits to each country easier for businesspeople.
The procedure minimizes the quarantine period in each country.
The ministry also said last month that it was working with Japan on loosening border restrictions for businesspeople.
Some market watchers say border restrictions between Korea and Japan could loosen as early as this month.
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]