Korea Revives WTO Complaint Against Japan

  • By Choi Hyun-mook, Kim Seong-min, Lee Soon-heung

    June 03, 2020 13:01

    The government has decided to revive a complaint against Japan at the World Trade Organization for curbing exports of high-tech materials to Korea. The decision comes after Tokyo declined talks to resolve the dispute.

    Na Seung-sik, a deputy minister for trade, industry and energy, made the announcement in a press conference at the government complex in Sejong City on Tuesday.

    Korea argues that Japan's curbs on the export of three core materials used to manufacture computer chips and smartphones go against WTO rules.

    Tokyo claims it is taking precautionary measures on key "dual use" materials that could somehow end up in Pyongyang's hands to make weapons. But in reality the curbs were economic retaliation in a diplomatic spat over compensation for wartime forced laborers.

    It usually takes more than two years for a trade dispute to be settled at the WTO, and the organization has been paralyzed by the Trump administration blocking appointments.

    Korean semiconductor manufacturers have also to some extent managed to diversify their sources, to the point where Tokyo last month admitted that Japanese manufacturers are being hurt.

    But the government said its aim in reviving the complaint is to "inform the international community about the illegality and unfairness of Japan's measures."

    Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expressed "regret" over the Korean government's plans and claimed that dialogue between trade officials from both sides had taken place.

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