TOKYO — Japan on Wednesday urged South Korea to clearly explain why it revoked Tokyo’s preferred trading partner status, calling the move “extremely regrettable.”
The Japanese government has not received sufficient explanation from South Korea as to the rationale and details of the latest change despite Tokyo’s earlier inquiry, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
“It’s extremely regrettable that the review was made,” Suga said at a press conference. “We will continue to urge South Korean authorities to fulfill their accountability to the international community.”
Japan-South Korea ties have cooled to a level unseen in recent years over the issue of compensation for wartime labor and trade policy.
On Wednesday, South Korea’s removal of Japan from its list of preferred trade partners came as a tit-for-tat for a similar move by Tokyo.
Japan removed South Korea on Aug. 28 from its white list of trusted trade partners that enjoy minimum trade restrictions on goods such as electronic components that can be diverted for military use.
It has also imposed tighter controls on some South Korea-bound exports of materials used in semiconductors and display panels for security reasons, leading South Korea to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization last week.
“We don’t see any problem at all from a security standpoint with our export or import (policies). We will look into why (South Korea) took the step” to revoke Japan’s preferential status, trade minister Isshu Sugawara told Kyodo News earlier Wednesday.
Japan has taken the view that South Korea’s latest measure would go against WTO rules if it is meant as retaliation for Tokyo’s move.
The ongoing trade spat between the Asian neighbors has raised concerns about its impact on global supply chains.