Seoul gives Tokyo till the end of May to outline plan to remove export curbs

2020.05.13 14:10:22 | 2020.05.13 14:10:47

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Seoul on Tuesday pressed Tokyo to address export curbs within the month as restrictions against strategic shipments to South Korea remain in force for nearly a year despite few grounds for security concerns.

“We have made fast amendments to areas Japan has cited for its reasons for export regulations. We ask Japan to address the issue (export regulation and whitelist removal) within the month,” Sung Yun-mo, the industry minister, said in a press conference Tuesday.

Japan exempted three high-tech chemicals necessary in wafer fabrication from fast-track clearance for export to Korea as of July 4, 2019. It then officially delisted Korea from the so-called ‘whitelist’ nations entitled for preferential fast-track procedures on shipments of tech materials and over a thousand items falling under strategic and sensitive category.

Seoul criticized that Tokyo’s decision was in retaliation for Korean court rulings ordering Japanese firms to make compensations to Korean victims for forced labor during colonial period.

Tokyo denied the claims and accused Seoul of loose supervision over the materials that could have been smuggled to North Korea for weapons development.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has strengthened own export controlling system as Tokyo required, while maintaining its previous stance that there is no serious issue in its export management.

As part of the enhancement measures, a new director general of the ministry’s office of international trade and investment will be dedicated to the international trade security such as for export approval of strategic and sensitive items and prevention of the outflow of critical technologies.

Newly revised regulations governing the export of items that could be used in making weapons, if not included in the strategic category, will take effect on June 19, the ministry said. Under the new rule, exporters have to earn a government approval for such sensitive items.

“It’s been almost a year since Japan announced stricter export curbs,” said Lee Ho-hyun, an official at the ministry of industry. “There is no excuse for Japan to hesitate to relax export curbs to the previous level” after the Korean government has taken various actions to improve its own export controlling system that Japan requested.

By Oh Chan-jong and Lee Ha-yeon

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