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Japan officially removes Korea from white list

Aug 28,2019
The Japanese government on Tuesday confirmed that it will officially remove Korea from its so-called white list of preferred trading partners today, even as Seoul continues to demand the immediate withdrawal of such economic retaliatory measures.

Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in a press conference said that Japan will “solemnly” implement export regulation measures as he confirmed that Korea will be taken off Japan’s top-tier Group A of 27 countries given preferential treatment in exports.

In the beginning of July, Tokyo unilaterally implemented export restrictions on three high-tech materials crucial for Korea’s semiconductor and display productions.

The Japanese cabinet went a step further and reached a decision to remove Korea from the white list of top trusted trading partners for security exports at the beginning of the month. Korea was set to be removed from the list, which it has been on since 2004, from midnight Tuesday.

Seko added that the decision is a domestic one and not “meant to impact relations between Japan and Korea.”

However, Tokyo has been rejecting Seoul’s overtures requesting for a diplomatic resolution to the problem, which stem from ongoing historical issues. Japan has fiercely protested decisions made by the Korean Supreme Court late last year ordering Japanese companies to individually compensate victims of forced labor during World War II.

Korea’s National Security Council last Thursday decided not to renew the General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia) with Japan, citing a breach of trust due to the lack of concrete evidence providing by Tokyo in claiming security concerns were behind the removal of Korea from its white list.

Seoul also decided to remove Japan from its own white list, but has left the option for dialogue open despite Tokyo showing no change in its position in foreign ministerial talks held in Beijing last week.

But Seko said that the trade controls are “completely different” from military intelligence and that he couldn’t “understand at all” why Seoul would connect the two matters.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Korea to uphold “promises” in a press conference Monday while in Biarritz, France, for the Group of 7 (G7) summit, reported Kyodo News.

Tokyo maintains that a 1965 bilateral accord that normalized relations with Seoul settled all compensation matters.

On Abe’s remarks at the G7 meeting, Kim In-chul, spokesman of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Tuesday, “The Foreign Ministry cannot accept such a position.”

He noted that Japan has “violated” World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations and is carrying out economic retaliations that go against its own statement touting free and fair trade G-20 summit, which was chaired by Japan.

On the white list removal, Kim in a briefing in Seoul, “Our government through diplomatic channels has continued to convey to the Japanese side our position that the export regulations are unjust, calling for their immediate withdrawal and the need for dialogue to resolve the issue, and we will continue to do so.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]


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