World, Asia - Pacific

South Korea appoints new envoy to Japan to restore ties

President Moon Jae-in picks Kang Chang-il to resolve pending issues with Tokyo

Islam Uddin   | 23.11.2020
South Korea appoints new envoy to Japan to restore ties


South Korea on Monday appointed a new envoy to Japan in a bid to restore ties with Tokyo.

South Korean's President Moon Jae-in has picked Kang Chang-il, a former four-term ruling Democratic Party lawmaker, as the new ambassador to Japan, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Kang, who used to lead the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' Union, is known for expertise on Tokyo-related affairs.

Moon's choice of Kang is viewed as reflecting his determination to resolve pending issues that have strained Seoul-Tokyo ties, which include a dispute over the compensation of wartime forced labor victims.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries remained at an all-time low over the past year after a South Korean court asked Japanese firms to compensate the victims of forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

Rejecting the ruling, Japan said a 1965 agreement between the two countries had ended the issue.

According to several historians Japan used hundreds of thousands of Korean forced laborers. However Tokyo says not all were forced laborers.

Tokyo acknowledged its wartime atrocities regarding the forced labors and apologized to Asian victims in 1995, but later significantly backpedaled under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nationalistic government that lasted nearly eight years.

The dispute between Seoul and Tokyo spilled over into trade and military issues.

Last year, Japan restricted exports of vital industrial equipment to South Korea, hitting the country’s tech industry.

On Sept. 24, newly-elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to speed up negotiations for an early agreement to resume business trips.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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