Japan calls S. Korea's latest move in trade spate "extremely regrettable"

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-03 22:58:49|Editor: huaxia

TOKYO, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha on Wednesday that Seoul's move to reopen a World Trade Organization complaint about Japan's tightening of export controls is "extremely regrettable."

According to Japan's foreign ministry, Motegi also told his South Korean counterpart during the 40-minute telephone talks that the move was also "not helpful" in resolving disputes between both sides, as both countries remain at odds over numerous issues that have severely marred bilateral ties between both countries of late.

According to South Korea's Foreign Ministry, Kang voiced "deep regret that Japan had not held up its end of the deal by easing its export controls despite South Korea having addressed all of Tokyo's concerns."

The South Korean government on Tuesday announced that it would move ahead with procedures to reopen the complaint against Japan's tightening of export controls last July on three high-tech materials.

The move was made on the part of South Korea due to Japan having not shown willingness to deal with the conflict bilaterally, despite months of negotiations that have already been put in to try and find headway, South Korea's Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry said Tuesday.

Japan slapped tougher export controls on three high-tech material bound for South Korea last July, which are used to manufacture semiconductors and display panels, mainstays of South Korea's economy.

A month later, Japan removed South Korea from its "white list" of countries given preferential trading status.

Tokyo said at the time the reason for this was that it was concerned that Seoul's rules on exporting sensitive goods were not stringent enough.

South Korea,for its part, filed the WTO complaint in September.

It stated that Japan's measures were both political and retaliatory in nature, although Seoul suspended the complaint in November after both sides agreed to begin dialogue to try and improve the export controls situation.

Tokyo and Seoul have been at odds since South Korea's top court ordered a Japanese firm to pay compensation for the forced labor of South Koreans during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan maintains the matter was settled by a 1965 pact, which saw Tokyo pay Seoul some 500 million U.S. dollars under the banner of "economic cooperation."

The dispute, however, continued and spread to trade and security issues, with both sides tightening export restrictions and removing each other from their preferential lists of trade partners.

The Japanese side had claimed that South Korea had been lax in making sure that certain goods being imported from Japan were not being diverted for military use.

The spat had also spilled over into security areas, with Seoul cancelling the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), before deciding to extend the pact with Japan just hours before the deal was due to expire.

GSOMIA is a bilateral military intelligence-sharing accord signed between both countries in November 2016.

The pair on Wednesday agreed to keep diplomatic channels open with an aim to resolving the standoff through ongoing dialogue, a Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson said. Enditem