SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's ruling party chief on Wednesday called on Japan to find a middle ground over historical issues through dialogue between the diplomatic authorities of the two countries.
"(South) Korea and Japan both have principles each wants to keep in place. While leaving the principles untouched, (the two countries) can find a middle ground (over historical issues). The diplomatic authorities know the best (how to do it)," Lee Nak-yon, chair of the ruling Democratic Party, told a press conference with foreign correspondents in Seoul.
The party chief, who served as the first prime minister under the government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, noted that the talks between the diplomatic authorities had been previously held in a stop-and-go manner due mainly to the intervention from the office of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Citing the South Korean ambassador to Japan, Lee said the Japanese government under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga looked more flexible in historical issues than the Abe cabinet.
A trade dispute between South Korea and Japan was triggered after the South Korean top court's ruling in 2018 that ordered some Japanese companies to pay reparations to the South Korean victims who were duped or coerced into harsh labor without pay during the World War II.
In an apparent protest against the ruling, Japan tightened control over its export to South Korea of three materials in July last year. The materials are vital to producing memory chips and display panels, the mainstay of South Korean export.
In the following month, the two sides removed each other from their respective whitelists of trusted trading partners that are given preferential export procedure.
South Korea decided in August last year to terminate its military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), citing Japan's imposition of export curbs.
In November last year, Seoul said it would suspend the GSOMIA termination as long as trade talks with Tokyo go on normally. The GSOMIA was signed in November 2016 to share military intelligence on nuclear and missile programs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Lee said the trade dispute and security issues between South Korea and Japan were caused in a connected manner, noting that it would be the easiest and the most reasonable way to resolve the issues in a connected manner.
He added that there should be no precondition attached for the improved South Korea-Japan relations. Enditem