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A dispute over the history of a 400-year-old gold mine has touched off fresh animosity between Japan and South Korea, just as the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden needs their cooperation to confront new North Korean weapons that threaten the U.S. allies.

Japan’s Cabinet decided Tuesday the government would seek a UNESCO World Heritage List designation for the mine on the island of Sado, which started operations about four centuries ago and closed in 1989. South Korea contends Tokyo is looking to whitewash the facility’s use of forced labor from the Korean Peninsula and has expressed "strong regret” over the the campaign.

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