Trump offers to help ease tension in Japan-South Korea dispute
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[July 20, 2019]
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S.
President Donald Trump on Friday offered to help ease tensions in the
political and economic dispute between Japan and South Korea, which
threatens global supplies of memory chips and smartphones.
Lingering tension, particularly over the issue of compensation for South
Koreans forced to work for Japanese occupiers during World War Two, took
a turn for the worse this month when Japan restricted exports of
high-tech materials to South Korea.
The United States has been hesitant to publicly wade into the feud
between its two biggest allies in Asia. Trump said South Korean
President Moon Jae-in had asked him if he could get involved.
"He tells me that they have a lot of friction going on now with respect
to trade, primarily with respect to trade. And Japan has some things
that South Korea wants, and he asked me to get involved," Trump told
reporters at the White House.
"So maybe if they would both want me to, I'll be. It's like a full-time
job getting involved with Japan and South Korea. But I like both
South Korea's presidential Blue House spokeswoman, Ko Min-jung, said in
a statement on Saturday that Moon had asked Trump for help at their
Seoul summit on June 30.
Ko said Moon talked to Trump in an effort to diplomatically solve the
issue as Japanese media, at the time, constantly reported the
possibility of economic retaliation against South Korea.
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President Donald Trump speaks while participating in an Apollo 11
50th anniversary commemoration event in the Oval Office of the White
House in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis??
David Stilwell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia policy, said in
Seoul on Wednesday that he took the situation seriously but did not
elaborate on what steps Washington might take and said it was
fundamentally up to South Korea and Japan to resolve their
Japan has denied that the dispute over compensation is behind the
export curbs, even though one of its ministers cited broken trust
with South Korea over the labor dispute in announcing the
Instead, Japan has cited "inadequate management" of sensitive items
exported to South Korea, with Japanese media reporting some items
ended up in North Korea.
South Korea has denied that.
The export curbs could hurt global technology companies.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional Reporting by Heekyong Yang
in Seoul; writing by Doina Chiacu, Editing by G Crosse, Jonathan
Oatis and Nick Macfie)
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