Charles Freeman Charles Freeman
Senior Vice President for Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 17, 2023


Japan and South Korea held their first official summit in 12 years – a big first step toward mending a historically tense relationship.  

What happened: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol met in Tokyo on March 16. The two governments took key steps to shift the economic, trade, and political relationship towards a more cooperative path, with the two leaders agreeing to resume “shuttle diplomacy,” establish an economic security council, and resolve the trade dispute related to Japan’s export controls on Korea.  

Private sector role: Ahead of the business roundtable on March 17, the two countries’ major trade associations – the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and Keidanren – announced their decision to create foundations to facilitate “future-oriented” bilateral collaboration on shared challenges such as energy security and decarbonization, aging societies, and geopolitical risks.  

The U.S. Chamber’s take: Tomoko Hosaka Mullaney, Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Business Council said, “These are encouraging developments to strengthen the relationship between two of the United States’ most important allies in the Indo-Pacific region and foster innovation and economic growth in both countries. Our members look forward to following the work of FKI and Keidanren and exploring opportunities to contribute to mutual interests and goals.” 

“We welcome recent efforts by the Japanese and Korean governments and business communities to improve the bilateral relationship and strengthen economic cooperation, which will be key in enhancing the U.S.-Japan-Korea trilateral partnership and addressing shared global challenges including supply chain resilience, energy security, and climate change,” said Esperanza Gomez Jelalian, Executive Director of the U.S.-Korea Business Council

About the authors

Charles Freeman

Charles Freeman

Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been helping companies navigate complex markets in the Asia-Pacific for 25 years. His career included senior stints in government, business, law, and academia, giving him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities in the world’s most dynamic region.

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