South Korean president urges Japan to revoke trade curbs
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2-L) presides over a meeting of his senior secretaries at the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea, Jul.8, 2019. EFE/EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT
Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun (R), head of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, shakes hands with Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine (L) during their meeting on Japan's economic sanctions on South Korea and other issues at the National Assembly building in Seoul, South Korea, Jul.8, 2019. EFE/EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT
South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (R), who doubles as the deputy prime minister for economic affairs, speaks at a meeting of external economic ministers at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, Jul.8, 2019. EFE/EPA/YONHAP SOUTH KOREA OUT
Seoul, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- South Korean president on Monday urged Japan to withdraw the recently imposed export restrictions, and warned of consequences if Tokyo failed to make a move.
Pledging to help domestic companies affected due to the curbs imposed last week on exports of materials for making chips and smartphone screens, Moon Jae-in also asked Japan talks to solve diplomatically the crisis over forced wartime labor.
"(I) call on the Japanese side to retract the measure and call for sincere consultations between the two countries," said Moon during a meeting with members of the Seoul presidential office, according to Yonhap news agency.
This is Moon's first reaction to the trade restrictions imposed by Tokyo on July 1, apparently in response to the rulings by several South Korean courts - including the Supreme Court - ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean citizens or their descendants enslaved by them during World War II.
The restrictions affect trading of materials -- such as fluoride polyimide - that South Korean companies import mostly from Japan to manufacture memory chips or smartphone displays.
According to the minutes of the meeting released by the presidential office, Moon said South Korea and the rest of the world were concerned over Japan's decision to restrict transactions, describing it as an attempt to limit trade for political reasons.
He stressed that his government, which has filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization, would seek a "calm" diplomatic solution and support South Korean companies facing restrictions but warned of consequences if Tokyo showed unwillingness to talk.
Tokyo's measures have put major South Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics or SK Hynix – the world's two largest chip makers – on guard.
The de facto head of the Samsung group, Lee Jae-yong, is visiting Japan to discuss with local entrepreneurs a situation that is deemed serious amid fears of a possible stock loss in the coming days.
Japan, which colonized the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945, maintains that all compensation for victims enslaved by Japanese companies was settled during the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations.
Through this treaty, Tokyo donated $300 million to Seoul. But the then military dictator Park Chung-hee administration failed to deliver the money to the victims, leading thousands of them suing the South Korean government this year.