Japan and Korea discuss exports

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Japan and Korea discuss exports

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From left, Lee Ho-hyeon, director-general for international trade policy at the Korean Trade Ministry, and Yoichi Iida, director-general for trade control at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, shake hands in Tokyo on Monday. [YONHAP]

Korea and Japan held their first export control meeting in more than three years, also the first since Japan imposed tougher export restrictions on materials essential to manufacturing semiconductors and displays.

According to the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Monday, the meeting started at 10 a.m. in Tokyo. It was scheduled to end at 5 p.m. but continued beyond that time.

Lee Ho-hyeon, director-general for international trade policy at the Korean Trade Ministry, led the Korean team of eight. On Sunday, before leaving for Japan from Gimpo International Airport, he said he would do his best in driving the discussion on resolving the problems.

“This is the first meeting that is being held between the Korean and Japanese trade authorities on policy discussion in three years and six months,” said Lee. “As such, we will try to hold a conversation that heads toward solving problems by improving understandings.”

Earlier, Lee said the goal of the Korean government is to roll back the export restrictions imposed on the three essential materials as well as getting Korea back on Japan’s “white list” of trusted trade partners.

“Although it is difficult to predict the outcome, we will try to actively explain the effective and normal operation of Korea’s export management system,” Lee said.

When imposing the tighter controls on its exports, Japan cited the lack of management of imported materials from Japan, which could threaten its national security as the materials could be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

It also cited the damage that had been done to the trust between the countries.

Yoichi Iida, director-general for trade control at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, led Tokyo’s team of eight.

The meeting in Tokyo took place ahead of the meeting between Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that is expected to be held in Chengdu, China.

The last time Moon and Abe talked was in Bangkok during the Asean summit held in early November, where they met for 11 minutes. Both agreed on the need to resolve the tensions between the two countries.

Signs of willingness to work on the issue started when the Korean government decided not to break off from the intelligence-sharing agreement between the two countries late last month.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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