A joint venture set up in 2019 by a top Japanese company and a top South Korean company was hailed as a beacon of cooperation amid strained diplomatic relations.

Executives from South Korea’s Naver and Japan’s SoftBank Group said they would jointly manage Line, a South Korean-developed messaging app popularized in Japan. They gave the project a code name that emphasized cooperation: Gaia.

Five years later, Japan and South Korea have made significant strides in easing long-standing historical tensions. But a rift has emerged over the ownership of the Naver-SoftBank venture, and diplomats and international relations experts fear it could again put stress on ties between the countries.