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Austrian State Visit to the Mutually Hostile Countries Japan and South Korea

Published: February 11, 2019; 23:12 · (Vindobona)

The two East Asian states, South Korea and Japan, which have been enemies for more than 100 years, are visited by Chancellor Kurz as part of the trip to East Asia. The trip is focusing on the economy, digitisation, education and transport. Meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon are held in Seoul and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Kurz: "East Asia offers many opportunities and we can learn a lot from South Korea and Japan in the area of digitization, for example, with regard to innovation or the 5G network in South Korea. In addition, we want to deepen our trade relations." / Picture: © Japanese, South Korean and Austrian crossed flags by Vindobona.org

Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz visits the two East Asian states of South Korea and Japan with an economic delegation and the Ministers for Digitisation, Margarete Schramböck, for Education Heinz Faßmann and for Transport Norbert Hofer.

"The East Asian region offers many opportunities for our companies. We can also learn a lot from South Korea and Japan, particularly in the area of digitization, for example with regard to the 5G network or innovation. As is well known, the Austrian economy earns 6 out of 10 euros in exports. This is why we want to further deepen our trade relations," said Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in the run-up to the planned trip to Asia.

On Thursday they arrive in Seoul first.

During his stay in South Korea, Chancellor Kurz will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, among others. In South Korea, there will also be a meeting with Samsung vice-president Lee Jae-yong. At the invitation of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sebastian Kurz will also attend the Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum at Yonsei University in Seoul.

South Korea is Austria's third most important trading partner in Asia.

In 2017, Austrian exports to South Korea increased by 51.6 per cent to around 1.3 billion euros. The increase is mainly due to the increase in deliveries of automotive parts and the Winter Olympics. Imports from South Korea also rose by 12 percent to 845.5 million euros. The Federal Chancellor was pleased that "the bilateral trade volume reached a historic high last year". South Korea is thus the third largest Austrian export market in Asia after China and Japan. Austrian direct investments currently amount to around 1.1 billion euros.

On Friday Kurz will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Japan is Austria's third most important overseas export market. In 2017, Austria exported a volume of around 1.4 billion euros to Japan. At the same time, imports from Japan rose by 8.9 percent. With a bilateral trade volume of around 3.5 billion euros, Japan is one of Austria's most important trading partners outside the EU.

As reported by Vindobona.org, a free trade agreement has recently entered into force between the EU and Japan, and the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Austria and Japan is being celebrated with Japan this year.

On Saturday the trip takes them to Hiroshima, where Kurz will commemorate the atomic bomb dropped on 6 August 1945. A visit to Honda Red Bull in Tokyo is also on the programme in Japan.

Japan–South Korea relations according to Wikipedia

"Japan and South Korea are close neighbors, as they are both main allies of the United States in Northeast Asia. In recent years, however, the relationship has greatly deteriorated due to many disputes, including the territorial claims on Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo or Takeshima), Japanese prime ministers' visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and differing views on Imperial Japan's treatment of colonial Korea, as well as Japan's refusal to negotiate Korea's demands that it apologize or pay reparations for mistreatment of World War II comfort women from Korea. The Diplomatic Blue Book by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2018 removed the phrase present in the previous year referring to the ROK as 'Japan’s most important neighbor that shares strategic interests with Japan.'"