TOKYO (AP) — Japan announced Tuesday a decision to reinstate South Korea as a preferential nation with accelerated trade status effective July 21, virtually ending a four-year economic dispute that has escalated further. during their bitter historical disputes.

Commerce Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters that Japan and South Korea also agreed to set up a framework to review and monitor the systems as necessary.

Japan and South Korea have been quickly mending his ties as they deepen tripartite security cooperation with Washington in response to growing regional threats from North Korea and China.

The reinstatement of South Korea’s preferential status next month would end a four-year trade dispute that began in July 2019 when Japan removed South Korea from its “white list” of countries receiving expedited trade approvals as it ties soured over Japanese wartime compensation. behavior.

Japan’s tightening of trade controls against Seoul was in apparent retaliation for South Korean court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean workers for abusive treatment and forced labor during World War II, when the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese occupation.

Japan also tightened export controls on key chemicals used by South Korean companies to make semiconductors and displays, prompting South Korea to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization and remove Japan from its own list of countries with preferential trading status.

Their ties have improved rapidly since March in a initiative of the government of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to resolve disputes arising from the compensation of Korean wartime forced laborers. Yoon also traveled to Tokyo for talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and agreed to rebuild the countries’ security and economic ties.

After their talks, South Korea withdrew its complaint to the WTO. Japan simultaneously confirmed the removal of export controls on key chemicals. South Korea too since then reinstated Japan’s preferential trade status.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has been trying to gain South Korean understanding in a plan to release into the sea the treated radioactive water of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, destroyed by the tsunami. It’s a highly contentious plan that faces strong opposition from South Korea and other neighboring countries, as well as from local fishing communities concerned about safety and reputational damage.

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