- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2019

Five major South Korean party leaders put their disagreements aside Thursday to present a united front against what they called Japan’s “unjust economic retaliation” that has opened a major diplomatic rift between two critical U.S. allies in the region.

The normally fractured South Korean parties said they were forging a new “pan-national” emergency body, accusing Tokyo of using trade penalties to re-fight historical conflicts.

Earlier this month, Tokyo announced it would be increasing restrictions on key high-tech Japanese exports to South Korea needed to produce semiconductors and display screens for South Korea’s smartphones and advanced television manufacturers. Japan claims South Korean courts are trying to revive old historical grievances and claims of mistreatment dating to when South Korea was a colony of Japan through the end of World War II.

Leader of the conservative Liberty Korea Party Hwang Kyo-ahn suggested sending a special envoy to Washington, which has a treaty alliance with both sparing nations. He added that President Moon Jae-in should engage Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe or send a special envoy to Japan immediately to prevent further retaliation.

“Core issues should be resolved between the leaders of both countries,” Mr. Hwang said, The Associated Press reported. “I think the president should solve this with a top-down approach.”

A presidential spokeswoman said Mr. Moon was glad to present Japan with a united front and would strongly consider diplomatic action, but he did not want to act on “anti-Japan emotion.” The decided “pan-national” agency would include officials from the government and various parties to keep a close eye on Japan’s looming trade war, The Korea Times reported.

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