Japan says it won't retract or renegotiate export rules on S. Korea

Japan says it won't retract or renegotiate export rules on S. Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday criticized comments by Japanese officials who questioned the credibility of Seoul's sanctions against North Korea while defending Tokyo's stricter controls on high-tech exports to South Korea.

S&P Global Rating's Asia-Pacific chief economist Shaun Roache said the dispute was as unpredictable as the U.S.

Our government "is doing its best to solve the matter diplomatically", he said at the presidential office in Seoul. Just $5 a month.

While the South Korean government refutes Japan's claims that the materials could end up in North Korea, Japanese government officials continued to raise the issue.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his aides have hinted that there might have been illegal transfers of sensitive materials from South Korea to North Korea.

South Korea denounced the Japanese measure as going against the spirit of free trade and demanded its withdrawal at a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, later in the day.

He added that South Korea has not yet asked Japan to resolve the dispute through the WTO.

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South Korea recently released two ships after they were impounded for North Korea sanctions violations in 2017 and 2018.

"I think it could be a move to show that (Japanese government) will take a stronger position on hard bilateral issues regarding damages to Japanese companies", Korea National Diplomatic Academy professor Choi Eun-mi said.

Analysts say the Japanese measure won't have a meaningful impact immediately on South Korean chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which both have sufficient supplies of the materials for now, given the slowdown in demand for semiconductors.

Kang "expressed concern that this is undesirable in terms of friendly relations between South Korea and Japan and trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the US and Japan", the ministry said. They say the decision to tighten export controls was based on a lack of trust that posed a risk to national security.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, South Korea's Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun Mo dismissed as "groundless" an allegation that hydrogen fluoride may have made its way to North Korea despite United Nations sanctions after being imported from Japan.

She went on to claim that Japan's move is motivated by the Supreme Court's ruling on forced labor.

The Japanese prime minister said Sunday on a Japanese television program South Korea "may claim it is regulating trade in compliance with North Korea sanctions" but just as "Seoul is not abiding by worldwide commitments on the wartime labor issue", it is likely "not regulating trade" in accordance with sanctions. Paik declined to speak to reporters after the meeting.