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(SEOUL=Yonhap News) A trade fair was held Monday in Tokyo, involving hundreds of businesses from South Korea and Japan and marking what its organizers called the normalization of trade relations between the two countries.
The one-day event drew over 400 businesses from both sides seeking to find new business and trade opportunities in a series of one-on-one meetings, according to the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).
The trade fair came about a month after KOTRA revived talks with its Japanese counterpart, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), for the first time in six years. The South Korean trade agency called it an attempt to "establish a comprehensive cooperation network for trade, capital and human resources between the two countries."
Trade relations between Seoul and Tokyo had continuously deteriorated amid diplomatic tension between the two, partly created by Japan's territorial claim to the South Korean islets of Dokdo and refusal to apologize or even acknowledge its wartime atrocities during World War II that include forced labor and sexual slavery of Koreans.
"There remain many issues between South Korea and Japan, but the shared view of businesspeople from both countries taking part in the event was that their economic cooperation must continue," KOTRA said in a press release.
In the January-November period, South Korea's exports to Japan dropped 7 percent on-year to some US$21.24 billion, according to the trade ministry.
"It is true domestic and global conditions for South Korean exports are at their worst, but there still exist many opportunities in the market," KOTRA president Kim Jae-hong was quoted as saying.
"Japanese businesses now hold a different view about South Korean products, service and technology than before, meaning South Korean firms must now seek to advance into the Japanese market with various products other than just industrial parts and materials, which have long made up key items in exports to Japan," he added.
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Source: Yonhap News (Dec. 19, 2016)