Japan, South Korea step up the trade dispute

The South Korean president said Monday that South Korea is committed to finding a political solution to a bitter trade dispute with Japan that has restricted its exports of high-tech materials that South Korean companies use to make semiconductors and displays.

In a meeting with senior assistants, President Moon Jae said that South Korea will have no choice but to retaliate if Japanese trade controls hurt South Korean companies.

Last week, Japan pulled South Korea out of a list of countries with which it has minimal trade restrictions and ordered the approval process to be strengthened for shipments of photographic materials and other chemicals to South Korea. This occurred amid the deterioration of relations between the two countries on issues related to the brutal colonial rule of Japan on the Korean Peninsula before the end of World War II.

The South Korean Ministry of Commerce has said that Seoul plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization for the “unfair” Japanese measure. The South Korean government considers the Japanese decision in retaliation for the recent ruling of a South Korean court order corporations to compensate South Korean claimants for forced labour during World War II.

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