FAC PN 48 07-08

27 November 2008

COMMITTEE PUBLISHES REPORT ON GLOBAL SECURITY: JAPAN AND KOREA

The Foreign Affairs Committee will publish its report on "Global Security: Japan and Korea" at 00.01 GMT on Sunday 30 November. This will be the Committee's Tenth Report of Session 2007-08 (HC 449).

Advance embargoed copies will be made available to witnesses and members of the press in electronic (PDF) form at 11am on Thursday 27 November and in printed form from the Press Gallery, and the Foreign Affairs Committee office, House of Commons.

The Chairman of the Committee, Mike Gapes MP, said:

"Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee were among the few British parliamentarians so far to have visited the enormous Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, where South Korean firms are currently employing around 26,000 North Korean workers. The working conditions at the Complex for North Koreans need to be improved, but they are better than they are elsewhere in North Korea and the project enables important North-South contact, so we conclude that its operation and further expansion should be supported. More generally, we recommend that the Government should continue to support engagement between North and South Korea, at a time when that relationship has run into difficulties."

"The free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea which is currently being negotiated is a potentially effective means of securing further opening of the South Korean economy and improved access for UK firms. We conclude that the agreement would be of great benefit to the UK and South Korea and hope that it can be finalised soon."

"We support the Six-Party Talks that are taking place with North Korea to try to secure that country's denuclearisation. With the handover of the US Presidency underway, we recommend that the Government should make clear to the incoming US Administration that it would welcome an early commitment to continuing the Six-Party Talks."

"Given North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons, the uncertainty surrounding future political developments in that country is worrying. We are calling on the Government to provide reassurance that the international community, including the UK and the EU, is undertaking coordinated planning for any sudden change in the situation."

"The North Korean regime is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world. The Foreign Office is doing good work, both bilaterally and with international partners, in attempting to raise the issue of North Korea's human rights practice. We recommend that the Government should continue in particular to assist Japan in pursuing the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. We also conclude that China is in breach of its international human rights obligations owing to its practice of forcibly repatriating North Koreans."

"Looking at Japan, we conclude that the Government is right in principle to support Japan's case for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, given Japan's economic strength, commitment to democracy and ability to make continuing contributions to the finances and work of the United Nations."

"The Report also considers the roles being played by Japan and South Korea on a number of international issues, including international military missions, peacekeeping and climate change. The Report considers human rights in Japan and South Korea, and the UK's bilateral economic and cultural relations with both countries."

The Report's conclusions and recommendations in full are as follows:

1. We conclude that recent Japanese commitments to the international fight against terrorism and to reconstruction efforts in Iraq have strengthened Japan's relations with the United States, as has the two countries' co-operation in developing a ballistic missile defence programme in response to the nuclear threat from North Korea. (Paragraph 38)

2. We reiterate the conclusion in our 2006 East Asia Report that "productive links between China and Japan are essential for peace and stability in East Asia". In that Report we expressed regret at the deterioration of the relationship to, as one witness put it, "the verge of dysfunctional". We conclude that the successful visit of Chinese President Hu to Japan in April 2008, and the agreement concluded in June 2008 between the two countries over exploitation of gasfields in the East China Sea, are positive signs of an upswing in the relationship between China and Japan. We recommend that the Government should continue to do whatever it can to see that that this is maintained. (Paragraph 46)

3. We conclude that recent indications on both sides of a wish further to improve Japanese-South Korean relations are to be welcomed. Given the important contribution which enhanced Japanese-South Korean co-operation could make on a number of issues, especially policy towards North Korea, we further conclude that the continuing capacity of the Takeshima/Dokdo islets dispute to disrupt Japanese-South Korean relations is regrettable. We recommend that the Government should urge Tokyo and Seoul not to escalate the dispute and encourage both parties to seek a mechanism for its lasting resolution. We further conclude that the issue of the Second World War "comfort women"€”Korean and other Asian women obliged to provide sexual services for the Japanese army€”remains a painful and emotive issue for the South Korean public and Government, and that its importance should be recognised internationally, including by Japan. (Paragraph 54)

4. We conclude that there is a realistic prospect of Japan normalising relations with North Korea, if progress can be made to resolve both the North Korean nuclear issue and the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals, but that these issues should be resolved separately. We further conclude that although the number of Japanese nationals who were abducted by North Korea is small, even allowing for the highest possible estimate, nonetheless it should be recognised by the international community that this is an understandably emotive issue for the Japanese public and Government. Like the Prime Minister, we extend our sympathy and respect to the surviving abductees and to the abductees' families. We conclude that the British Embassy in Pyongyang has played a useful role in bringing pressure to bear on North Korea in relation to the abductees. We recommend that the Government should continue to give such assistance as it can to Japan over this matter, and in particular that it should encourage North Korea to proceed speedily to set up the proposed reinvestigation commission, with a view to reaching a final resolution of the issue and removing this significant obstacle to the normalisation of North Korea's relations with Japan. While recognising the importance of these country-specific sensitivities, we further conclude that, in relations with North Korea, the greatest interest of the international community as a whole, including the UK, lies in denuclearisation. (Paragraph 68)

5. We conclude that the recent moves on both sides further to strengthen the South Korea-US alliance are to be welcomed. We conclude that the likelihood of greater convergence between South Korean and US approaches to North Korea should be especially useful. (Paragraph 76)

6. We conclude that the growing relationship between South Korea and China is to be welcomed as a potential factor for stability in East Asia, in particular as regards the management of the risks posed by North Korea, and on the assumption that there is no question of the two countries aligning against Japan. We recommend that the Government should make clear to the parties that it would welcome an early agreement on the South Korean-Chinese maritime border. (Paragraph 83)

7. Particularly in the context of the failure of the global Doha trade round, and given our support for a strengthening of relations among regional states, we conclude that bilateral and regional trade agreements involving Japan and South Korea are to be encouraged, provided that they do not prejudice economic access to local markets for the EU nor undermine any remaining prospects for the conclusion of a global trade agreement. We recommend that the Government should remain vigilant in assessing the implications of such agreements for the UK and the EU, and ensure that the EU maintains a similar stance. (Paragraph 91)

8. We conclude that North-East Asia is characterised by a set of interlocking and highly delicate inter-state relationships. While there have been improvements recently in some bilateral relationships, the region continues to be marked by a number of historical and territorial disputes which are potential sources of instability and obstacles to enhanced co-operation. We further conclude that the states of the region have a clear common interest in maintaining stability, in the interests of perpetuating economic growth and enhancing their international standing. We also conclude that, although there is no question of replicating European institutions in East Asia, there are some aspects of the European experience which might usefully be drawn on in the region, in terms especially of the mitigation of historical and territorial disputes, and that the strengthening of standing forums for regularised security dialogue among regional states would be welcome. We recommend that the Government should continue to work with its East Asian, European and US partners to encourage the further development of regional security forums in East Asia. In particular, the Government should convey to the US Administration its support for what appears to be a shift in US policy towards promoting multilateral regional frameworks in East Asia. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government should provide an assessment of the development of the various East Asian regional security forums so far, and in particular of the likely impact of the apparent shift in US policy and of prospects for the further institutionalisation of the Six-Party Talks framework. (Paragraph 101)

9. We recommend that in its work in East Asia, the Government should take every opportunity to support initiatives aimed at developing a shared historical understanding between the region's Second World War combatants. We further recommend that the Government should build elements of co-operation between regional states into programmes and projects in the region that it might otherwise pursue bilaterally, for example regarding climate change or research co-operation. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government should provide information on such work as it is already doing to encourage co-operation between regional states in specific policy areas. (Paragraph 102)

10. We conclude that the North Korean denuclearisation process in the framework of the Six-Party Talks is difficult and imperfect, and that there can be no certainty that it will lead to the elimination of all North Korea's nuclear weapons activities. However, we also conclude that the process has achieved a significant degree of denuclearisation, namely a halt to plutonium production at Yongbyon, verified by International Atomic Energy Agency personnel, and significant dismantling of the facility. We conclude that the fact that the agreements reached in the Six-Party Talks process are similar in outline to the 1994 Agreed Framework€”namely denuclearisation steps by North Korea in exchange for energy supplies and security gains through improved relations with the US€”suggest that this is the most effective basic deal for securing progress in denuclearisation. We further conclude that, by better harmonising the policies towards North Korea of the states most immediately concerned, and by increasing the number of states signed up to agreements and therefore the costs of defection, the Six-Party Talks format is more effective than bilateral US-North Korean negotiations, and may also have wider knock-on benefits for regional security. We conclude that the leading role of China in the Six-Party Talks is to be welcomed, and that the Government is correct to identify China as key to North Korean denuclearisation. We therefore conclude that the Government is correct to support the Six-Party Talks process, including the priority which the process gives to denuclearisation over other policy aims regarding North Korea. (Paragraph 137)

11. Given the difficulties in the denuclearisation process which arose in September 2008, we recommend that the Government should make clear to Six-Party Talks participants that it is willing to assist in any way that might help prevent any further possible breakdown in the process. We further recommend that the Government should make clear to the incoming US Administration that it would welcome an early commitment to continuing the Six-Party Talks and the policy approach which they embody. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government should provide an assessment of prospects for the international North Korean denuclearisation effort under the new US Administration, in light of the latest developments in the process and in the West's relations with Russia. (Paragraph 138)

12. We conclude that the Government is correct to regard the North Korean case as having wider implications for nuclear proliferation and for international non-proliferation efforts. We conclude that it is important from this perspective that North Korea should be returned credibly to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime as a non-nuclear weapons state. We further conclude that the North Korean case highlights important weaknesses in the current NPT regime, and we recommend that policymakers should draw systematically on the North Korean case, alongside others, in considering the future of that regime. We further recommend that North Korea's ongoing demand for civil nuclear power should be considered in the context of both the international effort to end the country's nuclear weapons programme, and current international discussions about mechanisms for the future safe provision of such power to further states. (Paragraph 143)

13. We conclude that the G8 Global Partnership Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (WMD) could provide a strong base of political, technical and organisational experience for projects reducing the risks associated with WMD activities in North Korea, when appropriate political conditions are in place. We further conclude that the willingness of the G8, including the UK, to consider expanding the work of the Global Partnership beyond the former Soviet Union is welcome. We recommend that, as part of the discussions that are underway on the future of the Global Partnership after 2012, the Government should consider with its G8 partners€”and especially the Six-Party Talks participants Japan, Russia and the US€”the possibility of Global Partnership involvement in North Korea. We further recommend that the Government should encourage Global Partnership participants who are also participants in the Six-Party Talks to begin to explore the same possibility with their North Korean interlocutors. (Paragraph 150)

14. We conclude that North Korea appears to retain an active ballistic missile programme. We further conclude that there is evidence that international efforts to deny North Korea both assistance and customers for its missile programme appear to be having some effect. We recommend that the Government should continue to work with its international partners to deny North Korea missile-related materials, equipment, technology and overseas sales. We further recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government should provide an updated assessment of the impact of current international measures against North Korea's missile programme, including the transport of North Korean missiles and missile components overseas. (Paragraph 161)

15. We conclude that the North Korean regime is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world, that its human rights practice is an affront to the international community, and that the main reason that the issue is not the subject of a larger international outcry is because it remains too little known. We conclude that the work of the FCO in attempting to address North Korean human rights, both bilaterally and with international partners, is to be commended. Although we conclude that human rights abuses are deeply linked to the nature of the North Korean regime, we recommend that the Government's efforts to address North Korea's human rights abuses should avoid language which Pyongyang might construe as threatening, and should be couched in terms of reference to specific obligations under international instruments to which North Korea has signed up. We further recommend that enabling the acquisition of more human rights information from inside North Korea should be a major goal of the Government's work, and that efforts should focus in particular on securing access for the UN Special Rapporteur. We further recommend that the Government should seek to co-ordinate its work on North Korean human rights with that of the South Korean Government, as Seoul's new willingness to raise human rights issues with Pyongyang may come to represent an important strengthening of the international effort in this field. (Paragraph 175)

16. Given the failure of UN mechanisms so far to achieve any significant improvement in North Korea's human rights practice, we conclude that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which North Korea is to undergo at the UN Human Rights Council in December 2009 offers a major opportunity to advance the international effort to secure improvements in North Korean human rights, as well as to establish the credibility of the UPR process. We recommend that the Government should engage actively with Pyongyang and with international official and non-governmental partners to ensure that the potential of North Korea's UPR process is realised to the maximum extent possible. (Paragraph 178)

17. We conclude that North Korea's longstanding food shortage is an avoidable human tragedy and a matter of the gravest concern. Provided that conditions are felt to be in place that ensure the receipt of aid by the most needy, we recommend that the international community should do everything possible to respond to the food shortage. We conclude that the recent resumption of US food aid and expansion of World Food Programme access and monitoring in North Korea are to be welcomed. We recommend that the Government should point to the ongoing food crisis when discussing with North Korean interlocutors the possible advantages of further economic modernisation and international opening. (Paragraph 190)

18. We conclude that China is in breach of its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention as regards its treatment of North Korean emigrants€”specifically, its failure to allow them access to a determination-of-status process, and its practice of repatriation without ensuring that deportees will not be subject to persecution, torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in North Korea. We further conclude that China's practice as regards North Korean emigrants places them in a distressing and dangerous situation. Especially given its view that North Koreans in China include people who are not economic migrants, we recommend that the Government should press harder on the issue of Beijing's treatment of North Korean emigrants, in its bilateral dealings with China, at EU level, and at the UNHCR. We recommend that in this effort the Government should prioritise the aims of: halting forced deportations from China to North Korea; securing access to the Chinese/North Korean border region for the UNHCR; and seeing the development in China of a legal regime allowing the regularisation of the status of North Koreans there, and above all of children with a North Korean parent. We recommend that in its response to this Report, and again in its 2008 Human Rights Annual Report, the FCO should report on the progress being made towards these aims. We further recommend that the Government should ensure that the issue of Beijing's treatment of North Korean emigrants is raised effectively as part of China's Universal Periodic Review process at the UN Human Rights Council in 2009. (Paragraph 209)

19. Given what appears to be rising interest in South Korea in pressing the issue of China's treatment of North Korean emigrants, and given South Korea's intimate connection with North Korea and its relationship with China, we recommend that the Government should consult on policy regarding North Koreans in China with the Government in Seoul. (Paragraph 210)

20. We conclude that the growing outflow of North Koreans from North Korea is creating an emigrant population in several parts of Asia whose human rights are systematically vulnerable. We recommend that the FCO should ensure that its Posts in relevant locations are aware of the issue and ready to assist both the individuals concerned and host Governments as needed. (Paragraph 214)

21. We conclude that the absence of market reform in the official North Korean economy contributes to the international risks which the regime represents, by failing to generate incentives for improved relations with the West, and by fuelling the regime's need to generate income from sales of weapons and illegal goods in the absence of alternative exports. We further conclude that, although the forces working against economic reform in North Korea are powerful, the Government should not assume that there is no possibility at all of more meaningful reform under the present regime. We recommend that the Government should remain alert so as to identify and cultivate any elements in the regime which may be open to further economic reform. (Paragraph 228)

22. Given North Korea's possession of WMD materials, we conclude that the degree of uncertainty surrounding possible future political developments in the country is worrying. We conclude that, given the lessening in the regime's social control since North Korea's last leadership succession, and the apparently enhanced likelihood that Kim Jong-il is suffering from health problems, the international community should have a set of co-ordinated plans in place for sudden change in the situation in North Korea. We further conclude that, although the parties to the Six-Party Talks would be the lead states in any international response, the UK and the EU would be likely to be called upon to assist and would have an interest in doing so. We appreciate that there are reasons why it may be sensible not to discuss plans in public, but we recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government should provide assurance that such planning is being undertaken. (Paragraph 234)

23. We conclude that a breakdown in relations between North and South Korea would bring to an end opportunities for valuable human contacts, and increase insecurity on the Korean peninsula. We further conclude that it is legitimate for South Korea to attach conditions to its co-operation with the North. We recommend that the Government should continue to support North-South engagement. (Paragraph 250)

24. We conclude that the current arrangements for the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)€”which allow South Korean firms to escape the International Labour Organisation standards to which they are subject at home, while providing non-transparent transfers of hard currency to the North Korean regime€”are far from ideal. However, we also conclude that the contact between North and South Koreans, and exposure of North Koreans to South Korean business practices, which take place at the KIC are to be welcomed; and that the KIC offers much better pay and working conditions than are available elsewhere in North Korea. We recommend that the Government should seek to use the leverage which is afforded by South Korea's wish to see the KIC included in the South Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to encourage improvements in the position of workers at the KIC, within a context of what is realistically achievable, and without jeopardising either the FTA or the continued operation and expansion of the Complex. (Paragraph 268)

25. We conclude that, while the UK is not in the frontline of the international effort to secure North Korea's denuclearisation, it occupies a special position as a close US ally which has diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. Especially given the difficulties into which the denuclearisation process ran in August-September 2008, we recommend that the Government should ask both North Korea and the US whether, coming to the process as a fresh element, it could facilitate any meetings which would help to strengthen the process. (Paragraph 273)

26. We conclude that the Government is correct to make the aim of exposing North Korea's people to alternative ways of life its top policy goal with regard to engagement with that country. However, we also conclude that the restrictions on relations which the Government has introduced, to try to leverage progress on denuclearisation and human rights, may be undercutting this goal. We recommend that the Government should think more creatively about ways in which it might increase contacts with North Koreans without simply benefiting the regime's elite. We recommend that the FCO should discuss with interested higher education institutions possibilities for hosting North Korean students. (Paragraph 287)

27. We conclude that the work that the British Council is doing in North Korea is to be commended. We recommend that the British Council should expand its work there if possible. (Paragraph 288)

28. We conclude that the existence of a British Embassy in Pyongyang brings diplomatic benefits to the UK, in terms of both bilateral dealings with North Korea and the UK's position in regional and international North Korea policy, and we recommend that its staffing and resources should reflect its value. (Paragraph 290)

29. We conclude that the UK's participation in the UN Command Military Armistice Commission represents an important British commitment to peace and security on the Korean peninsula, and we recommend that it should be maintained. (Paragraph 296)

30. We conclude that although there had been some risk of a disjunction opening up between the evolution of the bilateral South Korean-US military relationship and the formal responsibilities of the wider UN Command for peace and security on the Korean peninsula, under UN Security Council Resolution 84 and the Armistice Agreement, the UN Commander and his team are making efforts to avoid this risk, and that this is to be welcomed. We recommend that the Government should participate actively in UN Command preparations for the transfer of operational wartime command to South Korea in 2012. (Paragraph 305)

31. We conclude that the Government's continued willingness to send officers to serve in the UNCMAC Joint Duty Office and at the UNC Rear Headquarters in Japan is a welcome expression of the UK's commitment to the UN Command. We conclude that the agreement reached among the Command's participating states to ensure the continued provision of an international officer at Rear Headquarters is to be particularly commended. (Paragraph 306)

32. We conclude that Japan has offered valuable support to the international community through its very generous funding of peacekeeping and reconstruction activities, not least in Iraq and Afghanistan. We further conclude that the Japanese Government has displayed political courage in deploying Japanese ground and air forces to Iraq, and Japanese naval forces to assist in refuelling coalition vessels conducting operations in the Indian Ocean, and that these deployments are to be welcomed. We recommend that the Government should continue to engage with Japan as a co-operative partner in promoting international security and the fight against terrorism, and to encourage Japan to expand its participation in UN peacekeeping and international military missions as far as permitted by its Constitution to do so. (Paragraph 326)

33. We conclude that South Korea's growing willingness and ability to deploy its forces in international peacekeeping and peace support operations are to be welcomed. We further conclude that South Korea continues to make valuable contributions to the international efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq in which the UK is also engaged. We recommend that the Government should continue to encourage South Korea to participate more extensively in international peacekeeping and peace support operations and to enhance its capacities to do so. (Paragraph 333)

34. We recommend that the Government should, with its EU partners, continue to work with Japan to develop a common approach on developing realistic proposals for a reduction in emissions and other measures to tackle climate change. (Paragraph 341)

35. We conclude that recent signs that South Korea is coming to see efforts to mitigate climate change as a potential source of growth, not an obstacle to it, are greatly to be welcomed. We recommend that the Government should continue to encourage South Korea to develop its efforts against climate change, focusing on the potential which the development of "green" technologies offers for the country to exploit its industrial and technological strengths to boost growth and reduce energy dependence, but still aiming to secure a concrete national emissions reduction commitment which would help towards the achievement of a global Kyoto successor agreement in 2009. We recommend that the Government should ensure that British companies are aware of opportunities for climate change-related projects which open up in South Korea. We further recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government should update us on progress regarding the implementation of the bilateral Memorandums of Understanding on climate change co-operation which were signed in May 2008. (Paragraph 351)

36. We conclude that Japan continues to play a positive role with regard to development issues. We recommend that the Government should continue to work with Japan in the G8 and other forums to press for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. (Paragraph 357)

37. We conclude that, from a low base, South Korea's growing willingness and capacity to contribute to overseas development assistance are to be welcomed. We further conclude that the Government is correct to encourage and co-operate with South Korea in this area and recommend that it should continue to do so, as an opportunity to shape the development practice of a potentially important donor. (Paragraph 360)

38. We conclude that, although the process of United Nations reform is currently stalled, the Government is right in principle to support Japan's case for a permanent seat on the Security Council, on grounds of Japan's economic strength, size of population, commitment to democracy, and ability to make continuing contributions to the finances and work of the United Nations. (Paragraph 364)

39. We conclude that South Korea's support for the UN and for UN reform is to be welcomed. We recommend that the Government should continue to encourage South Korea to enhance its tangible commitment to the UN. We further recommend that the Government should seek to engage South Korea fully with the UK's ideas for UN reform. (Paragraph 368)

40. We conclude that support for whaling is culturally entrenched in Japan, and that this state of affairs is unlikely to alter in the short term. We further conclude that, notwithstanding this, the Government is right to lobby its Japanese counterparts vigorously on this issue, and to pursue all means at its disposal of dissuading the international community from turning back the clock in relation to the protection of whales. (Paragraph 375)

41. We conclude that, although there is undoubtedly a high level of public support for the death penalty in Japan, the moratorium on its use in 2005-06, under Justice Minister Sugiura, demonstrates that the Japanese Government is not necessarily immovable on this subject. We recommend that the Government should continue to convey its views on the death penalty to Japan, both directly and through EU channels; and that it should encourage the Japanese Government, if it remains committed to the death penalty, to reform the system so as to eliminate the unnecessary secrecy and arbitrary delay to which attention has been drawn by the UN Committee against Torture. (Paragraph 387)

42. We conclude that South Korea's 10-year record as a non-user of the death penalty is to be welcomed. While we recognise that the issue is subject to considerable domestic debate in South Korea, we recommend that the British Government should continue to encourage the new Administration and National Assembly in Seoul to move to formal abolition, as one of the priorities in the Government's human rights work with South Korea. We further recommend that in its response to this Report the Government should update us on prospects for passage of abolitionist legislation in the new National Assembly. (Paragraph 395)

43. We conclude that there is compelling evidence that the 'substitute prison' or daiyo kangoku system in Japan involves significant breaches of the rights of suspects, and is likely to lead to miscarriages of justice. We further conclude that the reforms to the system introduced in 2006 are to be welcomed, but that there remains cause for concern. We recommend that the Government should continue to press Japan to modify the daiyo kangoku system to ensure that detention procedures are consistent with its obligations under human rights law, and in particular to ensure that interrogations are subject to some degree of external monitoring in order to prevent abuses. (Paragraph 402)

44. We conclude that South Korea has recorded major improvement in its human rights observance since the advent of democracy two decades ago. We welcome this. We further conclude that despite these significant improvements, several human rights concerns remain, such as the policing of demonstrations, the scope of free speech on the internet and the rights of migrant workers. However, we recognise that these issues also pose challenges to many other open societies, including the UK. We recommend that, in a spirit of partnership, the Government should continue to encourage South Korea to address human rights concerns and to ensure that human rights are safeguarded in new legislation and its implementation, prioritising the rights of migrant workers, the development of alternatives to military service, and reform of the National Security Law. We further recommend that the Government should update us on the steps which it is taking in these areas in its response to this Report. (Paragraph 408)

45. We conclude that the UK's trading relationship with Japan is of great importance to both countries. We recommend that the Government should continue actively to encourage British companies to seize the long-term gains that the huge Japanese market offers, despite the initial difficulties of penetrating that market. We further conclude that the FCO is to be commended for its pro-active approach in encouraging Japanese inward investment in the UK, and in particular for its recent successful intervention to ensure that the implementation of the points-based visa system did not act as a disincentive to Japanese investors. (Paragraph 417)

46. We conclude that the South Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement which is currently under negotiation is a potentially effective means of securing further opening of the South Korean economy and improved access for UK firms, and that its early and successful finalisation would be of great benefit to the UK and South Korea. We further conclude that the FCO is correct to identify the services sector as a key target for further liberalisation under the planned agreement. We recommend that in its response to this Report, the FCO update us on progress in the negotiations, especially as regards access to South Korea's services markets. (Paragraph 425)

47. We conclude that the economic, commercial and research ties which have developed between South Korea and the UK are to be welcomed, and that the work in this respect of UKTI, the Seoul Embassy and other relevant bodies is to be commended. We further conclude that, given South Korea's level of development and rate of growth, and the existence of generally positive sentiment towards UK partners, there is considerable potential for the further development of such links. In this context, we conclude that the lack of UK Ministerial representation at President Lee's inauguration was regrettable. While we welcome the recent Ministerial and other visits to Seoul from the UK that have taken place and are planned, we conclude that a visit by an FCO Minister, and the Foreign Secretary in particular, with a significant economic component to the trip, would be appropriate, in South Korea's 60th anniversary year, and as the South Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement is being negotiated. We recommend that the FCO should take every opportunity with its South Korean partners to identify an early opportunity for such a visit. We further conclude that the FCO and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform should increase the ability of our Embassy to support British business opportunities in South Korea. (Paragraph 430)

48. Given the economic and strategic importance which the Government attributes to East Asia, and noting the Minister's acknowledgement of the value of university-level specialist regional capabilities, we conclude that the Government should take steps to avert any risk of East Asian studies in the UK again facing a crisis. As the initial Government core funding for the White Rose East Asia Centre is due to expire in 2011, we recommend that the Government should start now to consult with relevant partners in the university and private sectors with a view to developing follow-on core funding that will allow, as a minimum, the maintenance of UK university-level research and teaching on East Asia at its current level. We further recommend that the Government should ensure that public support for the development of regional language and other skills does not focus unduly on China but gives due weight to Japan and Korea, as important economies and cultures in their own right and vital components of China's regional environment. (Paragraph 437)

49. We conclude that the FCO's practice of ensuring that the UK sends Ambassadors to Japan and Korea who speak the language of their host state is to the UK's diplomatic advantage. We recommend that the FCO should continue this practice. (Paragraph 440)

50. We recommend that in its reply to this Report, the Government should set out its assessment of the scope for expanding the British Council's role as a provider of English-language teaching in Japan, to cater for the large market of young people seeking English-language skills. We further recommend that the Government should continue to make efforts in its cultural promotion work in Japan to emphasise the UK as a modern, creative, technologically advanced country, and that it should, where appropriate, utilise the UK's status as Olympic host nation in 2012 as way of highlighting this. We conclude that the British Council in Japan is to be commended for its emphasis on working with young people to deal with the challenges of climate change. (Paragraph 445)

51. We conclude that the British Council is correct to identify the potential for increase in the take-up of UK education services among South Koreans, especially in light of the Lee Administration's push to enhance English language provision in South Korea's state schools. We recommend that the British Council should continue to pursue these opportunities, while ensuring that UK universities are aware of the need to demonstrate the value of UK study in a tough South Korean market. We further recommend that, inasmuch as resources allow, the British Council should seek to increase its British cultural promotion work in South Korea, since the existence of a modern and dynamic cultural profile will contribute to the attractiveness of the UK educational offer. Given South Korea's history as an Olympic host nation and its strong showing at the 2008 Games, we recommend that the British Council should consider capitalising on the approach of the 2012 London Games as a means of giving focus to this objective. (Paragraph 455)

52. We recommend that BBC World television should continue to seek opportunities to increase its distribution in South Korea. (Paragraph 457)

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The membership of the Committee is as follows: Mike Gapes (Chairman), Labour, Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrats, Mr Fabian Hamilton, Labour, Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory, Conservative, Mr John Horam, Conservative, Mr Eric Illsley, Labour, Mr Paul Keetch, Liberal Democrats, Andrew Mackinlay, Labour, Mr Malcolm Moss, Conservative, Sandra Osborne, Labour, Mr Greg Pope, Labour, Mr Ken Purchase, Labour, Rt Hon Sir John Stanley, Conservative, Ms Gisela Stuart, Labour

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