South Korea proposes United Nations probe into Japanese sanctions claims

Cheryl Sanders
July 13, 2019

South Korea said Friday it wants an investigation by the United Nations or another worldwide body as it continues to reject Japanese claims that Seoul could not be trusted to faithfully implement sanctions against North Korea.

Japan last week tightened restrictions on the export of three materials used in smartphone displays and chips, following frustration over what it sees as South Korea's failure to act in response to a ruling by one of its courts in October past year ordering Japan's Nippon Steel Corp to compensate people forced into labor during World War II.

South Korean National Security Office Deputy Director Kim You-geun said that Seoul has fully enforced United Nations sanctions on North Korea, as well as global export control regimes on sensitive materials and dual-use technology.

Referring to the export curbs, Japanese officials have cited "inadequate management" of sensitive items exported to South Korea and a lack of consultations to exchange information on export controls.

The country said on Friday it deeply regrets accusations by some senior Japanese officials that it did not enforce proper export control.

Tokyo last week tightened the approval process for shipments of photoresists and other sensitive materials to South Korea, saying they can be exported only to trustworthy trading partners.

At their first meeting in Tokyo since the crisis erupted, Japanese officials told their South Korean counterparts that Tokyo saw weaknesses in Seoul's export controls.

He said South Korean officials protested that Japan was providing only "very abstract" reasons for its stricter export controls.

The official also said there had been some "inappropriate" cases involving Japanese exports to South Korea, but they did not involve shipments to a third country such as North Korea.

"The plan to integrate F-35A fighters into the military force is proceeding without any difficulty, but we are not able to confirm the schedule of acquiring [the aircraft]", the South Korean official said.

The meeting started in an icy atmosphere, with officials skipping handshakes and staring at each other across the table in silence for several minutes, and continued for almost six hours.

Tensions were raised in May when North Korea fired short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017, during a standstill in its talks with Washington over denuclearisation.

If a probe found any wrongdoing by Seoul, it would apologize and take corrective measures immediately, he said.

"If the result shows that our government has done nothing wrong, the Japanese government should not only apologize but also immediately withdraw the exports restrictions that have the characteristics of a (political) retaliation".

South Korean leader Moon Jae-in was left on the sidelines of a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the inter-Korean border in June, and there have been few signs that relations have improved.

Footage from Korean news outlet TBS showed Chon Chansu, a representative from South Korea's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources, walking through Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

Other reports by iNewsToday