July 10, 2019 10:24
Most Japanese support new export restrictions on materials vital to Korean IT giants in a surge of jingoistic sentiment in the island country amid never-ending historical spats between the two countries.
Major Japanese dailies criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's export restrictions announced on July 1, warning that they breach World Trade Organization rules and, due to the complexities of the supply chain, hurt Japanese business as well.
But the Japanese public is firmly behind the rare economic retaliation in a political spat.
TBS Television last weekend polled Japanese viewers and found that 58 percent support the restrictions and only 24 percent are against. An NHK poll showed 45 percent support and only nine percent against.
The Supreme Court here ruled last October that Korean forced labor victims can sue their Japanese employers despite a 1965 treaty that Japan says settled all claims in return for lump sum reparations. Lower courts have since ruled in their favor and authorized the seizure of the Korean assets of Japanese companies that refused to comply with compensation orders.
Tokyo now wants a third-country arbitration panel to resolve the dispute, but Korea has rejected the call and reported Japan to the WTO.
One diplomatic expert said the polls "express the views of the Japanese public about the perceived threat against Japanese businesses in the form of asset seizures when compensation for World War II atrocities have legally been settled."
Supporters feel the export curbs, which so far only mean that Korea has been taken off a "whitelist" of countries that do not need case-by-case approval for consignments, are a good idea even if they hurt Japanese exporters as well.
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