Trump Bemoans Request to ‘Get Involved’ in Seoul-Tokyo Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump said South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked for his help mediating a dispute with Japan’s government, and bemoaned the fresh demand on his time.

“I said, ‘How many things do I have to get involved in?”’ Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “I’m involved with North Korea, I’m involved with so many different things. We just did a trade deal, a great trade deal with South Korea, but he tells me that they have a lot of friction going on now with respect to trade.”

Trump Bemoans Request to ‘Get Involved’ in Seoul-Tokyo Dispute

Tensions are rising between Seoul and Tokyo over recent South Korean court rulings holding Japanese companies liable for compensation for forced labor at colonial-era mines and factories. The two countries have a long history of bitterness over Japan’s treatment of South Koreans during its occupation of the country leading up to World War Two.

“It’s like a full-time job, getting involved between Japan and South Korea,” Trump said. “But I like both leaders, I like President Moon, and you know how I feel about Prime Minister Abe, a very special guy also.”

Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, threatened “necessary measures” against South Korea earlier on Friday if the dispute isn’t resolved, without elaborating. The remarks came the day after a deadline set by Tokyo for Seoul to name an arbitrator. Japan earlier this month placed export restrictions on specialized materials vital for South Korea’s tech industry.

“If they need me, I’m there,” Trump said. “Hopefully, they can work it out, but they do have tension, there’s no question about it, trade tension.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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