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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Japan, ROK to launch consultations on stricter export controls

  • July 9, 2019
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Yomiuri led with a story saying the GOJ and the ROK government are likely to hold bilateral discussions in Japan later this week regarding the former’s imposition of tighter controls on exports of semiconductor-related materials to South Korea. The consultations will be launched in response to a request by Seoul, which insists that the measure violates WTO rules as it was taken in retaliation for its handling of the requisitioned workers dispute. According to the article, the Japanese side is expected to dismiss the Korean argument by attributing the tighter restrictions to the prolonged absence of bilateral communications on export controls and the existence of “improper cases” involving the semiconductor materials in question.  


As for Tokyo’s citing “improper cases,” Sankei said Japanese ruling party officials suspect that South Korean businesses have secretly exported the Japanese materials to North Korea. But Asahi highlighted remarks made by an unidentified source connected to the ROK Foreign Ministry. The source reportedly said “South Korea is in complete compliance with obligations” under the Wassenaar Arrangement regarding export controls for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. The source added that Seoul is enforcing UN sanctions resolutions on North Korea in good faith and in close coordination with the international community.


All national dailies separately reported that yesterday ROK President Moon called on Japan to revoke the export curbs, spotlighting his warning that Seoul “will be forced to take necessary measures” if South Korean firms are adversely affected. According to Sankei, the ROK leader described the current situation as an “unprecedented emergency” disrupting South Korean businesses and threatening semiconductor supply chains worldwide. President Moon also reportedly emphasized that his government is prepared to put together measures that will minimize the damage to be sustained by South Korean companies. He will reportedly invite leading Korean business executives to the Blue House today to discuss countermeasures. A vice chairman of Samsung, which will be hit hard by Tokyo’s punitive steps, is reportedly now visiting Japan to exchange views with its Japanese clients.  


In a related development, Yomiuri reported from Seoul on yesterday’s meeting on the forced labor conflict between a senior ROK ruling party politician and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Nagamine. The ambassador reportedly requested that the ROK government present an alternative to its proposal to launch a joint fund by Japanese and South Korean companies to pay compensation to the victims. The envoy reportedly said Tokyo would be ready to hold negotiations if Seoul puts forward a “better” plan. The Korean parliamentarian reportedly indicated that he will ask the Moon administration to come up with another plan.   


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