Published: Mon, July 08, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Abe Flails in Defending Export Curbs to S.Korea

Abe Flails in Defending Export Curbs to S.Korea

President Moon Jae-in in a meeting with senior aides on Monday called for Japan to withdraw what he described as a politically motivated measure and for "sincere" bilateral discussions for the issue.

South Korea has clinched a series of free trade agreements with major trading partners, including the US and China, as well as Chile, Peru and Colombia, in recent years as part of its efforts to boost growth in the country's export-driven economy.

Abe was referring to a decision by the Supreme Court here in October past year that South Korean forced labor victims can sue their Japanese employers despite a 1965 treaty that settles all claims in return for lump sum reparations. Japanese officials have said the judgments damaged trust between the USA allies and risked undermining the 1965 treaty that forms the basis of their relations.

Moon said he would prioritize development of home-grown high-tech equipment and materials and South Korea would improve the trade deficit with Japan in the long term.

A police officer stands guard near Japan and South Korea national flags at hotel, where South Korean embassy in Japan is holding the reception to mark the 50th anniversary of normalisation of ties between Seoul and Tokyo, in Tokyo June 22, 2015.

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South Korea's government and top electronics firms scrambled to tackle the situation.

Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and Kim Sang-jo, presidential chief of staff for policy, were to meet Hyundai Motor Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and LG Group Chairman Koo Gwang-mo, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

They also say they may expand the restrictions to cover other exports, including some machine tools and carbon fiber products.

Japan announced last week it is striking Korea off a whitelist for exports of three core materials used to produce microchips, smartphones and televisions on which Japan has a virtual monopoly. Samsung and other Korean companies are now finding it hard to lock down alternative suppliers.

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