No exit in sight from JapanSouth Korea dispute

July 16, 2019 | | Post a Comment

first_imgTOKYO: Japan and South Korea plan to meet over Tokyo’s move to restrict vital exports to its neighbor, but neither has much political incentive to climb down from their worst dispute in decades.Decades of mistrust make it difficult for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to retreat from their budding trade feud. A series of looming deadlines, including a Japanese upper house election on July 21, are only raising the political pressure on both men, who can’t afford to look weak dealing with disagreements rooted in Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean peninsula.On Wednesday, Moon, who was elected in 2017 on a promise to reconsider his predecessor’s moves to ease historical spats with Japan, warned business leaders in Seoul of a “prolonged” battle. At an election debate last week, Abe accused South Korea of reneging on its promises. Japan 10 Jul 2019 Japan, S. Korea step up trade dispute Tags / Keywords: “The leaders on both sides are incompatible with any sort of political rapprochement,” said Jonathan Berkshire Miller, a senior fellow with the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo who specializes in northeast Asian security issues. “The sense on Moon here is negative and Abe is obviously persona non grata in South Korea.”The flare-up stems from a series of South Korean court decisions ordering the seizure of Japanese corporate assets as compensation for Koreans conscripted to work in factories and mines during the colonial era. The issue escalated from a regional diplomatic spat to a global trade worry last week after Abe’s government moved to curb the export of specialty materials vital to South Korea’s technology sector.The restrictions give Japan a mechanism to slow production by chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics Co and SK Hynix, squeeze the South Korean economy and disrupt supply chains dependent on their memory chips and components. If left unchecked, analysts have warned of open economic warfare between the two key US allies, something they have avoided since Japan withdrew from the peninsula.Japan is also considering removing South Korea from a list of trusted export markets, a move that could affect a broader swath of products. Moon can’t afford any more slippage on the economic front after being dealt a blow earlier this year when South Korea’s gross domestic product in the first quarter shrank the most in a decade.South Korea appealed for the Trump administration’s help yesterday, with a top Moon aide visiting Washington and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha calling Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. Kang told her US counterpart that the export curbs could negatively impact the global trade order, according to the foreign ministry’s website. But the path to compromise has only grown more complicated. South Korea has for weeks resisted Japan’s demands for third-country arbitration to settle the forced-labor issues, arguing that conscripted workers have a right to pursue their claims in court.Meanwhile, Abe says that the export curbs stem from concerns about South Korea’s control over the sensitive materials and are not related to the forced-labor dispute, putting any negotiations on separate tracks. South Korea’s industry ministry said in a statement Thursday that officials would meet Japan to discuss the export restrictions, although Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko had previously said the government would only explain its position and not negotiate. Speculation that the materials could have fallen into the hands of North Korea, where they could be used to make weapons, have added fuel to the fire. Moon –sensitive to any suggestion that he’s failing to uphold the US-led economic blockade on Pyongyang – dismissed the idea as “groundless” and his government released data showing there were no cases of the country re-exporting Japanese hydrogen fluoride. — Bloomberg Economy , Japan , South Korea World 09 Jul 2019 South Korea rejects Japan media reports on transfer of material to North Koreacenter_img Related News Related News Tech News 08 Jul 2019 Boycott Japan: South Korean Instagrammers react to export curbs {{category}} {{time}} {{title}}last_img

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