South Korean President, Moon Jae, on Friday criticised Japan for its decision to remove his country from a white list of trusted trading partners amid worsening relations between the two countries over war-time forced labour compensation.
Moon expressed deep regret over Tokyo’s move, calling it a very reckless decision that further exacerbating the situation,” Yonhap News agency reported.
“As it has become clear that the responsibility for worsening the situation lies on Japan, I clearly warn that the Japanese government will be fully responsible for what will happen, going forward,“ he said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government removed South Korea from a list of 27 countries, which were able to purchase Japanese products that could be used for military purposes.
“The removal from the list will take effect on Aug. 28 following domestic procedures, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told a news conference.
Seko added the removal does not mean it would restrict trade and undermine bilateral relations or adversely affect Japanese companies.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga downplayed the move at a news conference, saying South Korea is the only Asian country given preferential status.
“We don’t believe there would be any impact on global supply chains,” Suga said.
The decision comes a day after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung Wha failed to defuse tensions between the two countries during talks in Bangkok.
In early July, Abe’s government decided to impose restrictions on South Korea-bound exports of materials used in semiconductors and smartphone production.
Moon described Japan’s move on Friday to expand export restrictions as a “grave challenge” to bilateral ties and a “selfish” act that will heavily damage the global economy, according to Yonhap.
The neighbouring countries have been locked in the current row since South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese companies last year to compensate forced labour victims during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.
The ruling infuriated Tokyo as it argued that all reparation issues were settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations.
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