North Korea slams Japan over its trade dispute with South Korea

Galtero Lara
Julio 21, 2019

Japan's export restriction came in protest against the South Korean top court's rulings that ordered some of Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel and the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries among others, to pay compensation to the South Korean victims who were forced into hard labor without pay during the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The unprecedented move by Japan jarred South Korean chipmakers, including Samsung Electronics, the world's largest memory chip maker. Sales of Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory beer fell almost 25 per cent in the first two weeks of July compared with the second half of June, it said.

More broadly, given the volume of trade between the two neighbours, if the restrictions are sustained or expanded it would have "no small impact on our economy", South Korea's central bank chief Lee Ju-yeol told reporters.

A South Korean official said last week Washington had yet to make any official request to Seoul on the issue.

Japan is one of the most hawkish of the major powers on the nuclear-armed North - whose leader Kim Jong Un agreed to a resumption of dialogue with Tokyo and Seoul's major ally the U.S. last month - and has received some of Pyongyang's harshest rhetoric.

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Ko said Moon talked to Trump in an effort to diplomatically solve the issue as Japanese media, at the time, constantly reported the possibility of economic retaliation against South Korea.

He had spoken to an acquaintance on the phone while driving to the Japanese embassy from his home yesterday morning and told the person that he was "setting fire" to himself because of "his hostility against Japan", a police officer at Seoul's Jongno Police Station told AFP.

A spokeswoman for Moon confirmed Moon had asked Trump for help at their summit in Seoul on June 30.

The Blue House said Japan's claims that South Korea is violating global law are "simply wrong" and urged Tokyo to "withdraw unjustified export restriction measures and refrain from comments and measures that could further exacerbate the situation". It also said it plans to remove South Korea from a whitelist of 27 countries that receive preferential treatment for trade with Japan.

Early this month, Japan imposed stricter regulations on exports to South Korea of three materials - resist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide - that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays.

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