Sunday, 21 July, 2019

‘Unprecedented emergency’: S. Korean president warns of prolonged export row with Japan

Boycotts against Japanese Products Beginning to Take Shapes Samsung boss visits Tokyo amid Japan-Korea trade scuffle escalation
Russell Knight | 11 July, 2019, 22:22

He said the government would help to minimise the damage on South Korean companies from the curbs that Japan imposed amid a diplomatic row over forced wartime labour.

Japan has announced new restrictions on the export of three materials used in semiconductors and smartphones to South Korea. Japan's trade curbs have raised concern about disrupted production at South Korean companies and the threat it poses to global supply chains, he said.

The issue has become a full-blown diplomatic dispute between the neighboring USA allies. -China trade war and was likely to affect South Korea's growth. Samsung and other Korean companies are now finding it hard to lock down alternative suppliers.

The remarks followed urging Monday by South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the restrictions to be withdrawn.

Kang "expressed concern that this is undesirable in terms of friendly relations between South Korea and Japan and trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan", the ministry said.

At the WTO meeting, Paik Ji-ah, South Korea's ambassador to Geneva, said it is regrettable that Japan introduced the measure after leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies, including Japan and South Korea, adopted a joint statement showing their intentions to realize a free, fair and non-discriminatory trade environment at their meeting in Osaka late last month.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will provide emergency funds to domestic companies affected by Japan's export restrictions on South Korea's crucial tech industry, Yonhap News reports, citing Cho In-dong, an economic policy officer at the city's office.

It did not say whether the Japan-South Korea dispute would be discussed.

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A former Japanese ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki, questioned the need for US mediation.

The dispute stems from Tokyo's frustration at what it calls a lack of action by Seoul over a South Korean court ruling last October that ordered Nippon Steel to compensate former forced labourers.

The term comfort women is a euphemism used to refer to women who provided sex, including those who did so against their will, for Japanese troops before and during World War II. Japan holds that all claims were settled.

David Stilwell, the new USA assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, arrived in Japan on Thursday on the first stop of a 10-day visit to Asia.

"This is an issue to be solved between Japan and South Korea", Fujisaki said.

Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said it may be too early for Stilwell to assess what the U.S. could do to help.

Samsung Electronics is the world's largest memory semiconductor maker, with its chips accounting for some 20% of South Korean exports.

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