SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's foreign ministry on Wednesday expressed regret and protest over Japan's decision to remove Seoul from its whitelist of trusted trading partners.
The ministry said in its spokesman's statement that the South Korean government expressed deep regret and strong protest over Japan for removing South Korea from the whitelist, urging Tokyo to immediately retract it.
Japan's move to drop South Korea off its whitelist of nations, entitled to simplified export control procedures, came into effect at midnight as planned. Earlier this month, Seoul took Tokyo off its whitelist of trusted export partners.
The Seoul statement said it was deplorable for the Japanese government to take the action, which negatively affects regional prosperity, free trade order as well as economic cooperation between the two sides, though South Korea repeatedly urged Japan to seek a constructive resolution through dialogues.
The statement noted that Japan's action was a clear "trade retaliation" against the South Korean top court's ruling on the wartime forced labor victims, saying it was a grave challenge to rock the foundation of the longtime friendly, cooperative relations between the two countries.
The South Korean top court ordered some Japanese companies, including Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries among others, to compensate the South Korean victims who were forced by Imperial Japan into hard labor without pay during the Second World War, when The Korean Peninsula was colonized by Japan.
After the South Korean court's ruling, Japan tightened regulations last month on its export to South Korea of three materials vital to produce memory chips and display panels, which are the mainstay of the South Korean export.
In response, South Korea decided last week to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), a military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that was signed in November 2016.
The Seoul ministry said Japan's rejection of South Korea's dialogue offer would be of no help to resolve the issue, urging Tokyo to respond to Seoul's overtures sincerely.