By Kim Boram
SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will start preparations for resuming science and information technology cooperation with Japan, which has been stalled for years due to trade and historical issues, following the Seoul-Tokyo summit last week, a senior government official has said.
"As the Korea-Japan relations are expected to improve in a future-oriented manner, we are considering launching projects to get ready for the upcoming diplomatic improvement," Park Yun-kyu, vice minister of the Ministry of Science and ICT, said in a media briefing held Wednesday last week.
"We need to map out new strategies and put forth efforts to make contact with the partner country," he added.
The long-running historical disputes over compensation for Koreans forced into hard labor for Japanese companies when Korea was under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-1945 have affected the bilateral relations between the neighboring nations.
Japan imposed export restrictions against South Korea and removed South Korea from a "white list" of favored trade partners in 2019. In retaliation, Seoul filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the export controls.
But the strained atmosphere was recently eased as Seoul decided to compensate Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor on its own without Japanese firms' contributions earlier this month.
Subsequently, Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Japan to hold summit talks with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, the first top-level meeting in more than a decade.
Park, the vice minister, said renewed bilateral cooperation, especially in the digital sector, will bring about mutual benefits to both countries.
"Japan is an advanced country and has experienced many social, demographic challenges in the past. And we can discuss ways to solve those challenges with digital technologies, of which we, South Korea, have a relatively competitive edge," the vice minister said.
"We are considering expanding cooperation in sectors that include artificial intelligence, 5G and 6G wireless networks, space satellites and quantum technologies," he added.
He also said as part of the plan, the ICT ministry is seeking ways to resume regular working-level talks on radio wave issues between the two governments and expand them to a minister-level meeting.
Last week, Yoon instructed the government to look for new projects to help South Korea and Japan increase cooperation and build a future-oriented relationship.