South Korea’s Moon Proposes to Fight Japanese Trade Restrictions by Expanding Economic Ties With the North

Moon: Best way to stick it to Japan is to end division with the North

Obviously economically anemic North Korea can not actually replace Japan, but any excuse to advance peace between North and South is a welcome one

South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed a “peace economy” based on inter-Korean economic cooperation on Aug. 5 as a way of responding to Japan’s trade retaliation measures.

His message signaled a commitment to stepping up the pace of inter-Korean and North Korea-US dialogue and broadening the economy’s scope rather than capitulating to Japan’s attempt to use economic retaliation as leverage to sabotage reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

“The areas where the Japanese economy has an advantage over the South Korean one are in economic scale and domestic demand,” President Moon said while presiding over a meeting of senior secretaries and aides at the Blue House that day.

“If we can achieve a peace economy through economic cooperation between South and North, we can instantly close the gap with Japan’s economic advantage,” he said.

In his remarks, he stressed that the South Korean economy could find another way out once the domestic demand market increases to 76 million people in South and North Korea through increased inter-Korean economic cooperation.

“Through this experience [with Japan’s trade retaliation measures], I have gained a renewed awareness of the urgent need for a peace economy,” he continued.

“We can achieve peace and shared prosperity on the Korean Peninsula as well as denuclearization if South and North work together under the conviction that a peace economy is a future that is ours alone, something no one country in the world can possess,” he said.

As if to acknowledge North Korea’s recent short-range ballistic missile test launches and the lack of progress in North Korea-US working level talks on denuclearization, Moon stressed the importance of optimism and patience.“

A peace economy is not something we can be pessimistic about or give up on too easily because of whatever twists and turns arise in inter-Korean and North Korea-US relations,” he said. “Given the many years of antagonism and distrust, it is only possible if we go about restoring trust in one other with dogged commitment.”

Explaining the context behind Moon’s “peace economy” remarks that day, the Blue House said that with one of the aims of the Japanese government’s provocations being to preserve inter-Korean antagonism, his message was meant to clearly signal that this would not succeed.“

The [Shinzo] Abe administration keeps trying to create cracks in the new order of peace on the Korean Peninsula through its economic provocations,” a Blue House official said.

“President Moon was stating his aim of pursuing the Korean Peninsula peace process consistently without being influenced by Japan’s objective,” the official added.Kim Hyun-chong, second deputy chief of the Blue House National Security Office, said on Aug. 2 that “rather than assisting South Korea in its efforts to get the peace process underway, Japan has thrown up roadblocks to that process.”

“Japan opposed delaying the South Korea-US joint military exercises around the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and maintained that sanctions and pressure were the only solution even while dialogue and cooperation with South Korea was underway, and it called for holding drills to prepare Japanese citizens in South Korea for a wartime evacuation,” he noted at the time.

Peace regime means traveling a different path from Japan

Moon also emphasized that the establishment of a peace regime would mean traveling a different path from Japan, which has been focused on maintaining established economic interests in the international community.

“Japan needs to realize that economic power alone is not enough to occupy a leading position in the world,” he said.

“[South Korea] will consistently pursue a free and fair economy and an order of peace and cooperation, and it will uphold universal human values and international norms,” he stressed. A Blue House official explained that his remarks “conveyed the message that we will take a different path within the international community from Japan, which is only a great power economically.”

Moon reiterated his intent to viewing the current situation as an opportunity to change the constitution of the South Korean economy.

“Japan cannot stop our economy from making a leap forward. If anything, [these measures] will be a stimulus that inspires our community to progress into an economic power,” he said.

“We need to take this opportunity to look at ourselves objectively and usher the Republic of Korea another step forward,” he continued.

“I look forward to seeing the administration’s policy commitment adequately reflected in this year’s supplementary budget and next year’s budget.”

Source: Hankyoreh

  1. thomas malthaus says

    The US is disappointed in the North-South reconciliation, so they’ve chosen the proxy role.

  2. CHUCKMAN says

    I do like Moon. He began like a fresh breeze.

    After all, South Korea, apart from having had a criminal or two as leader along the way, had a series of what were in fact dictators, despite the title “president.”

    I have been disappointed since Moon’s promising start, but I think that largely had to do with American pressures, which are not typically covered in the news.

    America does like keeping itself at the center of things, which is quite literally where it is located in Korea.

    I don’t think it is ready to vacate that spot yet, anymore than it would dream of leaving NATO, no matter what Trump has tantrums about.

    When Japan recently started taking its new attitude towards trade with South Korea, I wondered just what was going on.

    I think the answer is supplied by another comment made here, that the US is unhappy about developments between the two Koreas and is using Japan in a proxy role.

    Perhaps private conversations between the two Korean leaders have touched on these matters before. The NSA would know.

    Japan’s Abe is unbelievably servile towards the US in so many things, I think always having in mind a need for a counter-weight against China.

    Of course, recent history provides plenty of causes for antagonism between China and Japan and Korea and Japan. The Japanese were just so brutal during WWII.

    The concept Moon has for a “peace economy” embracing both Koreas is terrific stuff.

    Perhaps Moon can demonstrate his early promise had substance. I hope so.

    The United States will not happily accept being gradually pushed aside, no matter how gently it is done. So, there are difficulties ahead, just as there are for Europe reclaiming any of its independence.

    But we do see cracks in the empire forming now in many places, and it is encouraging.

    People always speak against national dictators or corporate monopolies, so who likes having a global one?

    And one which now is more hostile and demanding and arrogant than ever in memory?

  3. BillA says

    so what about the military exercises with the US?
    – no promotion of relations with NK there (political BS ?)

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