Most Japanese Support Export Restrictions Against Korea

Andrew Cummings
July 11, 2019

South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Monday South Korea could be working toward worldwide cooperation with the United States and other countries to push back against Japanese restrictions.

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has indicated that he ordered restrictions on exports of chemicals critical to South Korea's high-tech manufacturing industry out of concern that banned technology is being shared with North Korea.

President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday reiterated Seoul's position that the measures are politically motivated, while criticizing Japan's attempt to justify its actions by linking them to sanctions on North Korea.

"The measure is not a subject for consultation and we have no intention of withdrawing it either", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.

Japan pushed back on Tuesday against calls from South Korea to scrap restrictions on high-tech exports to its Asian neighbor, as a diplomatic row over forced wartime labor escalates between the two key USA allies.

Since July 4, manufacturers have been required to file applications before they can export to South Korea three materials needed in the production of semiconductors and displays for smartphones and televisions.

But the top government spokesman also said South Korea's export control authorities are seeking to "check facts" with the Japanese government and it was prepared to respond to their request. According to the data, the number of illegal exports of such materials between 2015 and March this year came to 156.

Samsung Electronics is the world's largest memory semiconductor maker, with its chips accounting for some 20% of South Korean exports.

South Korea's ruling party also announced on Thursday that up to about 300 billion won ($254.8 million) would be included in a supplementary budget bill to cope with Japan's export curbs. South Korea's policies on the peninsula have fallen out of step with that of the U.S., it said.

"In reality, the stance the USA is taking does not show any signs of (the United States acting) for us or to improve South Korea-Japan ties", Na said, refuting the government's position that Moon and Trump have a good relationship.

He called for the government and private companies to form an "emergency response system" to deal with the impact of the Japanese trade curbs and prepare for the possibility that the dispute drags over an extended period. Lower courts have since ruled in their favor and authorized the seizure of the Korean assets of Japanese companies that refused to comply with compensation orders.

While noting that South Korea-Japan relations are unlikely to improve in the near future, she warned that the two sides should avoid taking a hard-line position.

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