S. Korea-Japan Trade Row: Diplomatic pause as two sides no longer threaten deeper measures
Updated 19:58, 15-Aug-2019
Koreans are observing National Liberation Day to mark the end of Japanese colonial rule in 1945. But the focus of many of today's events and marches is the trade war between Japan and South Korea that threatens to starve Korean tech giants of critical products and potentially disrupt global supply chains. CGTN's Jack Barton reports from Seoul where there is anger, but also hope that the row can abate soon.
88-year-old South Korean Kim Jeong-ju, a self-described World War Two slave laborer at Japanese firm Fujikoshi. She's fighting for compensation and an apology.
KIM JUNG-JU FORCED LABORER WITH JAPANESE FIRM FUJIKOSHI "I feel so sad, so sad and we lived a life of suffering, me and my sister, I hope Japan, Abe, will come to his senses, repent and apologize to us."
A painful legacy at the heart of a modern trade war, which last month saw Japan slap restrictions on exports used by Korean high-tech companies to make products like memory chips and screens.
JACK BARTON SEOUL "Seoul believes Japan's economic retaliation is a result of a supreme court ruling last year in favor of compensation for forced labor during Japan's colonial-era occupation."
Tokyo's move sparked protests and a widespread boycott of Japanese goods. Some analysts say the restrictions were an attempt by Tokyo to stop other countries filing similar claims.
KIM HYUN-WOOK KOREA NATIONAL DIPLOMATIC ACADEMY "It doesn't want the forced labor issue to become pan Asian."
Japan added pressure by removing South Korea from a list of trusted trading partners. Seoul says it will do the same.
KIM HYUN-WOOK KOREA NATIONAL DIPLOMATIC ACADEMY "All of these things make it seems like South Korea is now ready to fight with Japan on economic terms."
There are signs of a diplomatic pause. South Korea's trade minister says he's ready for talks anywhere, anytime. President Moon Jae-in insists there will be no winners from a trade war. Japan is no longer threatening deeper measures. But, the shadow of wartime conscription is not going away.
KIM SE-EUN LAWYER REPRESENTING FORMER FORCED LABORERS "The issue of forced conscription has escalated to the economy, of not just both countries, but the global economy and this has become more evident that this is an issue that needs to be resolved, so this is a welcome development."
So, while Seoul seeks a solution, it does so against the backdrop of a dwindling number of determined former forced laborers who say as long as they live they will fight for justice. Jack Barton, CGTN, Seoul.