Japan walks back earlier claims, says export controls unrelated to NK sanctions

By Shin Ji-hye

First round of bilateral talks ends without progress; Seoul requests second meeting but gets no answer from Tokyo

Published : Jul 12, 2019 - 23:47
Updated : Jul 13, 2019 - 00:25

The first round of working-level talks between South Korea and Japan ended without progress Friday evening, with Japan retracting its earlier claims and saying its decision to impose restrictions on the export of high-tech materials to South Korea has nothing to do with North Korea.

Representatives of Japan’s Trade Ministry, instead, said the export control systems of both South Korea and Japan were being mismanaged and accused Japanese exporters of violating the country’s export laws, according to Korean officials. 

During a six-hour discussion in Tokyo, Japanese officials said it had imposed the restrictions because the country found it necessary to do so as a responsible supplier nation since the three materials in question are subject to international export controls, Lee Ho-hyun, chief of the Industry Ministry’s trade policy bureau, told reporters in Seoul.

Japan believes export management has been inadequate because South Korean firms routinely ask for the materials on short notice, Lee siad.

This was the first meeting between the two nations since Japan announced on July 1 that it was imposing a stringent approval process for exports to South Korea of high-tech materials essential for the production of semiconductors and display panels.

Lee Ho-hyun, chief of the Industry Ministry’s trade policy bureau

Japan said there has been a lack of trust between the two nations as they have not held bilateral talks over the last three years, Lee said.

If the products are purely for civilian use, they won’t be subject to export restrictions and will be allowed into the country, although it may take some time, Lee said, quoting Japanese officials.

The South Korean officials suggested holding another meeting before July 24, but have not received a reply. July 24 is the deadline for the Japanese government to gather opinions on the amendment of its presidential decree, which will determine whether it excludes South Korea from its “white list” of countries entitled to preferential treatment for trade.

South Korean officials expressed regret that Japan had not provided a full explanation or notified them in advance of its intentions to impose the export restrictions. They also demanded that Japan provide evidence of reasonable grounds for questioning its export control system.

South Korean trade negotiators and their Japanese counterparts sit face to face before the meeting begins Friday in Tokyo. From right are Chun Chan-soo, chief of South Korea’s Industry Ministry’s trade security division; Han Chul-hee, chief of its trade division; Iwamatsu Jun, trade management chief of the Japanese Trade Ministry; and Igari Katsuro, security trade management chief of the Japanese Trade Ministry. (Yonhap)

The meeting was attended by Chun Chan-soo, chief of the Industry Ministry’s trade security division, and Han Chul-hee, chief of its trade division, from the Korean side. Representing the Japanese side were Iwamatsu Jun, head of the Trade Ministry’s trade management division, and Igari Katsuro, leader of its security trade management division. 

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)


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