Sunday’s Sankei led with a story claiming that the GOJ plans to announce on Monday that it will apply tighter restrictions starting on July 4 to exports to South Korea of three key materials used to manufacture semiconductors for television screens and smartphones. The paper explained that the punitive measure is being taken in response to South Korea’s continued failure to present concrete steps toward improving the bilateral ties that have been damaged over the requisitioned workers dispute. According to the daily, relaxed administrative procedures have been in place for exporting to South Korea fluorinated polyimide and two other materials. The GOJ also reportedly plans to end beginning in August the favorable status given to the ROK when Japanese companies export advanced materials to the country by removing it from a list of “white countries” stipulated in the Foreign Exchange Law.
The daily wrote in a separate piece that the Abe administration has decided to take strong measures against the Moon administration since it failed to respond to Tokyo’s request to announce by the time of the G20 Summit concrete steps for reconciliation. The daily said although the planned measures will have adverse effects on the South Korean economy, the GOJ’s view is that the ROK is “bringing this upon itself.”
Other papers ran similar stories today, with Nikkei expressing doubts about the planned measures and saying they bring to mind President Trump’s unilateral punitive tariffs on foreign partners. The business daily stressed that the measures may run counter to Japan’s cherished principle of promoting free trade and that foreign companies may move to reduce their dependence on Japanese suppliers of these key strategic materials based on the assessment that Japan’s export rules are too arbitrary to count on them for stable supplies.