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Japan allows 1st export of chemical to S Korea under tighter export controls

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-08-09 00:39


TOKYO - Japan issued its first permit for exporting to South Korea a chemical needed in producing semiconductors since imposing stricter export controls last month, Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said Thursday.

"We don't usually disclose our decisions. But we made an exception this time because the South Korean government is unfairly criticizing us by claiming we have implemented an export ban," Seko said.

On July 4, Japan made it a requirement to file applications for each transaction for exporting fluorinated polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and photoresist to South Korea.

The move was believed by Seoul to be an economic retaliation for its handling of an arbitration process connected to a wartime labor row stemming from Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsular.

Japan believes the matter of compensation for the wartime workers was dealt with "finally and irreversibly" in a 1965 pact inked between both sides that covered the issue.

Tokyo, meanwhile, has maintained that the tighter export controls have been put into place due to reasons of national security, but has also called Seoul out for repeatedly breaching prior pacts and causing mutual trust to be diminished.

The material being exported was reportedly bound for South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co.

Prior to the stricter export controls imposed on South Korea, three-year permits were issued to manufacturers in Japan exporting the three materials to South Korea, and cases were not approved on an individual basis.

Calls, hence, have been rife from the South Korean side for Japan to scrap its new, stricter controls.

As reported by local media here, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon has called on Tokyo to reconsider the move.

"Japan's economic attack on South Korea is unjustifiable for a country that leads the world. It's also self-contradictory for a country that has benefited from free trade. We will step up diplomatic efforts to bring the situation to its original state," Japan's public broadcaster NHK quoted Lee as saying.

Countering calls that the tighter export controls constitute a form of export ban, Japan's top government spokesperson said Thursday that legitimate transactions will not be prevented and that the process would not be arbitrary.

"The tightening of controls are not an export ban, and we have demonstrated that we will not arbitrarily use the rule to prevent the issuing of permits for legitimate transactions," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing.

As bilateral ties between Tokyo and Seoul have deteriorated owing to issues of trade and wartime historical disaccord, Japan also decided earlier this month to remove South Korea from its "white list" of countries given preferential trade status.

The change will take effect on Aug 28.

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