'Don't Cross the Line,' Korea Tells Japan

  • By Ahn Jun-yong

    July 23, 2019 11:19

    Cheong Wa Dae on Monday warned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "not to cross the line" after he called on Korea to give an "appropriate response" in an escalating diplomatic row.

    Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said, "I would like to ask instead if the Korean government has not given an appropriate response until now," Ko said. She added both governments should "not cross the line and make utmost efforts for future cooperation between the two countries and their people."

    The outburst was prompted by Abe saying in a TV interview over the weekend that Korea needs to come up with an "appropriate response to its breach" of a 1965 treaty whereby Korea waived all claims for compensation for wartime atrocities with lump sum reparations. The Supreme Court here has since ruled that a treaty between states cannot override individual rights.

    As the row escalated into retaliatory export curbs from Japan, the Korean government decided to formally complain against being struck off a "whitelist" of countries that do not require case-by-case permits if they want to import certain key parts and materials.

    Speaking at a meeting with his chief presidential secretaries, Moon also called for "technological innovation" to thwart Japan's moves and reduce the reliance of Korean IT giants on Japanese parts and materials.

    "Until now, we have surpassed Japan's absolute superiority in many industries, including home appliances, electronics, semiconductors and ships," Moon said. "We can do it."

    "A venture-capital spirit of technological innovation could be a valuable solution at a time when technological supremacy that goes against the principles of free trade threatens our nation's economy," he added. He vowed to "stimulate bold innovation" in the high-tech materials and components industry.

    Tokyo is incensed that courts here have ruled that Japanese companies must compensate Korean forced labor victims and authorized the seizure of their Korean assets when they refused to comply.

    Abe has repeatedly called for a third country to arbitrate in the spat but Korea has refused. On Monday, a Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson said, "There is no change in our stance that what comes first is the victims' 'acceptance' of compensation."

    Japan is expected to strike Korea off the whitelist later this week. Korea and Japan are expected to clash at a World Trade Organization meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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