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Japan aims to strengthen teams to win international economic disputes

  • July 29, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 2:21 p.m.
  • English Press

The government will drastically strengthen its functions for dealing with international disputes on securing Japan’s economic rights by reorganizing a related ministry and increasing the number of officials in charge, amid increasing cases of disputes with South Korea, among other countries, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.


The Foreign Ministry will set up the economic dispute settlement division under the International Legal Affairs Bureau. The Cabinet Secretariat is planning to expand the number of members on the economic team in charge of economic security policy, created in April under its National Security Secretariat, from the current 20 to 30 next fiscal year, and to 50 within three years.


Behind the government putting an emphasis on dealing with international disputes is a matter Japan and South Korea brought before the World Trade Organization in April 2019.


South Korea banned the import of marine products from Japan and the Appellate Body of the WTO issued a ruling in Seoul’s favor. Prior to that, a lower tribunal body of the WTO had accepted Tokyo’s claim. Some Japanese government officials pointed out that Japan was overconfident with that victory and did not make sufficient efforts to prove the case before the Appellate Body.


In the wake of the loss, the Foreign Ministry decided to upgrade its office for international economic dispute settlement, which was in charge of the marine product dispute with South Korea, to a division, and move it from the current Economic Affairs Bureau to the International Legal Affairs Bureau, which collects know-how on international tribunals, past rulings and other necessary information. The ministry will also reorganize its Foreign Policy Bureau to strengthen cooperation with the Cabinet Secretariat’s economic team.


The government, in cooperation with the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and other related organizations, aims to “make a unified judgment from the viewpoints of politics, economics and international law,” a government official said.


In addition to strategically responding to economic conflicts, the government sees the growing importance of the economic security field, as moves have spread in the United States and Europe to eliminate products from major Chinese communications equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. for the 5G next-generation communications standard.

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