Japan and South Korea resolve trade dispute over semiconductor supplies

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Japan and South Korea have resolved a long-running trade dispute related to semiconductor materials in a move to repair strained ties between the two US allies amid geopolitical tensions with China and concerns over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. Japan stated that it will lift export controls imposed in 2019 on chemicals required for South Korea’s chip industry, while Seoul said it would withdraw a complaint it had made against Tokyo with the World Trade Organization over the restrictions. The breakthrough came ahead of the first official meeting between South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida since 2011. Last week, Seoul announced that victims of Japanese wartime forced labour practices would be compensated via a fund financed by South Korean firms. The US hailed the move as a groundbreaking step to resolve a long-standing historical dispute, although some victims’ representatives criticised it for failing to secure payments from Japanese companies. Instead, a pair of “future partnership” funds will be paid into by the Japanese and South Korean business lobbies to support collaboration in youth exchanges, energy security and global supply chain issues.

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