Japan Sees No Talks Soon on Its Export Curbs to South Korea

(Bloomberg) --

Japan doesn’t see a quick resumption of talks with South Korea on export restrictions for materials vital to its tech sector, as a deadline approaches for Tokyo to step up curbs on its neighbor.

Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters Tuesday that export controls were not a matter for international organizations. His comments came the day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for jointly commissioning an investigation by an international organization, saying Japan had chosen materials needed for “the core elements of the Korean economy’s competitiveness.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has said its move stems from concerns about South Korea’s control over sensitive materials and that it could make a decision as soon as July 24 on whether to remove Seoul from a so-called “white list” of trusted export countries treated as presenting no risk of weapons proliferation.

The first face-to-face discussions between Japan and South Korea about the export controls on Friday exposed deep divides between the two U.S. allies, with each side providing differing accounts of what was said.

The Abe government argues it must impose new licensing requirements on South Korean purchases of three specialty production materials to ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

The materials include fluorinated polyimide, which is needed for the production of foldable panels, and photo-resists essential for chipmaking. The curbs could affect South Korean giants like Samsung Electronics Co.

Moon says his South Korea has abided by international regulations and sees Japan’s move as backfiring, as his country bands together to fight it.

The move has exacerbated a flareup in the long-running dispute over whether Japan has sufficiently compensated Koreans who suffered under its 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula.

Tokyo has given Seoul until Thursday to meet its demand for third-party arbitration over South Korean court seizures as part of forced-labor cases against Japanese companies -- another looming deadline that could stoke simmering tensions.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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