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Abe insists that forced labor dispute must be resolved

All national dailies reported that Prime Minister Abe indicated yesterday that the GOJ will not ease its controls on exports of sensitive materials to South Korea unless the Moon administration addresses the dispute over wartime requisitioned workers. In a meeting with a senior LDP official who was told recently by ROK Premier Lee that the issues involving export restrictions and the termination of the GSOMIA defense information sharing pact should be resolved concurrently, Abe reportedly said: “I want South Korea to keep the promises made between the two states…. Resolving the dispute over requisitioned workers is the top priority.”


Mainichi published a prominent article on the background behind Japan’s strengthening regulations on exports of ROK-bound semiconductor materials, claiming that while it was adopted to remind the Moon administration of Tokyo’s firm position on settling the forced labor dispute, GOJ officials were surprised by Seoul’s strong reaction. The daily said there is an emerging consensus within the GOJ that only time will resolve the differences between Tokyo and Seoul, with an unnamed high-ranking GOJ official reportedly saying: “Reconciliation will be difficult as long as President Moon is in office. We have no choice but to leave the matter as it stands.” The paper added that Abe will not hold talks with Moon unless he comes up with concrete ideas to resolve the forced labor conflict.  


Meanwhile, Yomiuri wrote that according to Trade Minister Seko, the chairman of an APEC meeting held in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 30 warned a South Korean official not to bring up bilateral issues with Japan in the multinational conference. During the conference, the ROK official reportedly criticized Japan for imposing tighter export controls by saying they will affect global supply chains. The senior Chilean diplomat who was chairing the meeting reportedly expressed “regret” over the Korean official’s remarks and said: “Bilateral issues should not be taken up in the APEC session.”  

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