South Korea reinstated Japan to its list of preferred trading partners, a major step in mending ties with a long-time rival that also aligns with Washington’s efforts to create a global supply chain less reliant on China.

The return of Japan to South Korea’s "whitelist” of trusted trade destinations will cut red tape for exporters by shortening the review period for approval of strategic goods heading to Japan to five days from 15, and the number of required documents to three from five, according to an announcement Monday from South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy.

The development is part of broader attempts by both nations to fix strained diplomatic ties, rooted in disagreements over wartime labor and compensation, as well as concerns about the sharing of sensitive technology. The relationship worsened in 2019 when Japan removed South Korea from its own preferential list, leading to reciprocal action.