South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday offered an olive branch to Japan to end a tense trade dispute, saying Seoul will “gladly join hands” if Tokyo to accepts calls to resolve it through dialogue.
Moon in a nationally televised speech also downplayed the threat posed by North Korea's recent short-range ballistic launches and expressed hope that Washington and Pyongyang would soon resume nuclear negotiations.
Moon's speech at a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II come amid heightened public anger over Toky''s recent moves to impose trade curbs on South Korea, which triggered a full-blown diplomatic row.
Tens of thousands of South Koreans are expected to march in anti-Japan protests planned throughout Thursday.
Seoul has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to target its export-dependent economy and retaliate against South Korean court rulings calling for Japanese companies to offer reparations for aging South Korean plaintiffs for their World War II forced labor. Tokyo's measures struck a nerve in South Korea, where many people still harbor strong resentment over Japan's ruthless colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
After threatening stern countermeasures and declaring that South Korea would “never lose” to Japan again, Moon had taken a more conciliatory tone over the past week amid relief in Seoul that the impact of Japan's trade measures may not be as bad as initially thought.
There has also been concerns that the government's nationalistic calls for unity in face of what Moon previously described as an “unprecedented” crisis were allowing public anger toward Japan to reach dangerous levels.
Source : VOA