South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, speaks during a meeting with senior aides at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday. Photo: Yonhap via A
politics

S Korea's Moon calls for diplomatic solution to trade spat

54 Comments
By KIM TONG-HYUNG

South Korea's president said Monday the country is committed to finding a diplomatic solution to a bitter dispute over tightened Japanese control of exports of high-tech materials used by South Korean companies to produce semiconductors and displays.

In a meeting with senior aides, President Moon Jae-in called for Japan to withdraw what he described as a politically motivated measure and for "sincere" bilateral discussions on the issue. He said South Korea would be left no choice but to take countermeasures if the Japanese trade controls damage South Korean companies.

Last week, Japan removed South Korea from a list of nations with which it minimally restricts trade and ordered a more stringent approval process for shipments of photoresist and other key chemicals to South Korea. The move came amid deteriorating relations between the countries over issues related to Japan's brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before the end of World War II.

South Korea's Trade Ministry has said Seoul plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization over the "unjust" Japanese action. The South Korean government sees the Japanese move as retaliation for recent South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese corporations to compensate South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II.

"The recent trade curbs imposed by Japan have raised concern over disruption in production for our companies and the threat it poses to global supply chains ... there's global concern over the move to limit mutually beneficial trade between civilian companies for political purposes," Moon said.

"A vicious cycle created by measures and countermeasures wouldn't be ideal for both countries. But if South Korean companies begin experiencing actual damages, our government would have no choice but to take a necessary response," he said, adding that he hopes things don't come to that.

Japan's export restrictions, which went into effect last Thursday, cover fluorinated polyimides, which are used in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens for TVs and smartphones, and photoresist and hydrogen fluoride, which are used for making semiconductors.

Japanese officials insist the decision to end preferential treatment for such exports to South Korea resulted from a lack of trust that posed a risk to national security.

When asked about suspicions in Japan that South Korea was allowing chemicals exported from Japan to flow to North Korea, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said without providing details that there had been a case of inappropriate use.

"Regarding export controls with South Korea, it is true we haven't had sufficient communications or exchanges of opinion with South Korea for at least three years," Nishimura said.

An official in South Korea's presidential office denied the suspicions during a background briefing, saying that the country was properly implementing international sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons program and that there was no evidence backing the Japanese claim.

The Japanese move to control exports triggered an angry response in South Korea, where many believe Japan still hasn't fully acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed during its colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Thousands of South Koreans have signed petitions posted by citizens on the presidential office's website that called for boycotts of Japanese products and travel to Japan. One petition demanded that South Korea boycott next year's Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Retailers have reported modest declines in sales of Japanese beer, while social media and online message boards were filled with posts seeking advice on whether trips to Japan should be canceled over worries of unfriendly reception by Japanese.

Analysts say the Japanese measure won't have any immediate meaningful impact on South Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which have sufficient supplies of the materials for now, given the slowdown in demand for semiconductors.

However, there's concern that Japan might expand the restrictions to include other key semiconductor materials such as wafers, or materials and components used in other products, including rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles.

In January-May, 94% of South Korea's imports of fluorinated polyimide and 92% of its imports of photoresist were from Japan, according to a report by Moody's Investors Service, which cited trade data from South Korea.

Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix accounted for 73% of the global DRAM market and 40% of the global NAND market by revenue in the first quarter of 2019, according to market researcher DRAMeXchange.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

54 Comments
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President Moon Jae-in called for Japan to withdraw what he described as a politically motivated measure 

Finally stopped laughing so I can type.....Looks who's talking!

30 ( +37 / -7 )

NOW he wants to talk.

31 ( +36 / -5 )

Make up an issue then hold out ur hand...

This is his third or fourth time doing this. What a legacy

20 ( +25 / -5 )

Make them squirm first.

And then sing for it.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

While President Moon seems to have the international community on his side, the WTO won’t be able to force Japan’s hands. While Japan is a member of the WTO, its still a leading exporting economy so they have some strong legs to stand on. Even if the WTO gets involved, it can’t fully force the issue because countries still care more about themselves than what the collective group was formed to do.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

.

His strategy around exploiting the issue around comfort women backfired.

Moon's political career is at stake now -so SUDDENLY he is ready to work within real time in 'REAL POLITIK'

.

But it's a little bit too late, mate

Mitsubishi , Nippon Steel and other large J manufacturers have lost their trust.

.

21 ( +27 / -6 )

Very funny that South Korea wants another diplomatic solution/treaty that Moon &Co won’t respect.

Don’t bother Japan.

Untrustworthy people cannot be your friends, business partners or get preferential treatments. Keep hitting where it hursts them the most.

28 ( +33 / -5 )

Um....

Hahahahahahaha!

14 ( +18 / -4 )

NOW he wants to talk.

When did he not want to talk? As far as i know, it was SK that kept wanting to resolve this issue, and Japan that kept rejecting every call saying the issue was already resolved? It was SK that called for joint fund, and Japan that rejected it. It was Moon that wanted to talk during the G-20, and Abe that ignored him. Have i missed something?

-27 ( +9 / -36 )

Well, there's one quick and easy way to bring an end to all this confusion: Shinzo could just organize an official Diet apology admitting Japan's atrocities, then hop on a plane over to Seoul, get on his knees and pray for the victims.

Willy Brandt did it at the Warsaw Ghetto monument in 1970. No reason why Shinzo couldn't make such a gesture now, is there.

https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/warschauer-kniefall-1970/

-26 ( +9 / -35 )

Why would anyone listen to this clown, they don't honor their signed agreements.

22 ( +27 / -5 )

Well, there's one quick and easy way to bring an end to all this confusion: Shinzo could just organize an official Diet apology admitting Japan's atrocities, then hop on a plane over to Seoul, get on his knees and pray for the victims.

A few years ago, I would have agreed with you. But then Japan and Korea came to an agreement to settle the issue once and for all. Except than soon after Korea decided that once and for all wasn't as long as one may have thought.

That makes it hard to negotiate in good faith in the future. The onus is basically on South Korea to figure out a solution now. In a world where the only basis behind agreements are the words of the parties making the agreement, withdrawing from an agreement after one has been made weakens one's position significantly moving forward. South Korea needs to accept this, and figure out a final solution which they present to Japan to look at and decide whether or not they are even willing to come to the table.

This is why countries need to be extremely careful when withdrawing from agreements former administrations may have made. It destroys reputation.

22 ( +25 / -3 )

What's the point of sitting down and discussing ANYTHING with the South Korean government?!

I mean, they can agree to something and then the Korean courts will issue some ruling that undermines what is agreed.

And the South Korean government will then claim that their hands are tied because of the "independence"of the courts.

Basically, the Korean government is playing games and trying to have their cake and eat it too!!!

26 ( +30 / -4 )

Wars are terrible and people and countries do terrible things, while I wish Japan would be a little more contrite on occasion there have been multiple apologies and reparations, it seems while the memory is short for those its long when trying to look for a villain.

Japan isn't that Japan, not even close, and all of this squabbling amongst countries that should be cooperating plays into the hands of the non-democracies that are now more and more likely to shift the direction of Asia in the wrong direction... if you care about peace, freedom and prosperity.

All these old guys needs their heads banged together, swallow their pride, stop simply protecting their political seat by playing up to other old people and try to build a future, stop looking to a glorious or victimized past.

The individuals that survived the earlier part of last century through occupation and war have sadly been treated terribly by their own governments and now are being used as political playing cards.. its pretty disgusting really.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

So sad to see countries that are so similar involved in petty arguments.

Korea needs to invest more in R&D and forge trade links with other countries in order to alleviate Japan’s intransigence.

-19 ( +4 / -23 )

@Alfie, but therer been apologies: List of war apology statements issued by Japan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_issued_by_Japan?wprov=sfla1

Why would one more change anything?

19 ( +23 / -4 )

It's the matter of the national security. So they are the serious decisions from the intelligence activities and strict analysis. It's not the matter of deals.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

I’m not a fan of Abe or Moon but this problem is wholly Moon’s fault.

The Korean and Chinese governments just use anti Japanese propaganda to stir the pot and rile up the ignorant masses.

Japan also did terrible things in the war to the Philippines and Indonesia. But if you ever visit these countries there is no bitterness, they love Japan and every other restaurant in the shopping malls are Japanese themed.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

This is why countries need to be extremely careful when withdrawing from agreements former administrations may have made. It destroys reputation.

Very true. Trump withdrawing from the Iran agreement has destroyed the US's reputation. But what are the Koreans supposed to do? The previous agreement was with the monster Park Geun-hye, now serving 20 years in jail for corruption and abuse of power. Do agreements still count when made by deranged cultists?

http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3025416

-19 ( +5 / -24 )

 they don't honor their signed agreements.

Lolololololololololoololololololol

You're going to thrust honor out there knowing the japanese ldp regime willingly and openly flaunts honor by constantly treating the populace like garbage through reneging on campaign 'promises', wreaking democracy through the suppression of free press, skirting career ending scandals, only to name but a few in a long list of issues. So, where's the honor in that?

Do agreements still count when made by deranged cultists?

Unfortunately according to many here, short answer is yes.

-21 ( +3 / -24 )

Just ordinary treatment as EU does to S.K could leads to this much of panic?

Japan did another favor to SK realizing how vulnerable and dependent on Japan their export-oriented economic structure is.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

what he described as a politically motivated measure

A medicine you can dish out Mr. Moon, nasty tasting stuff isn’t it. This has happened because of you. Mommy and Daddy should have taught you to play nice with others.

Called for "sincere" bilateral discussions on the issue.

Unfortunately Japan is already fully aware that you in particular and the South Korean Government in general couldn’t be “sincere” even if they tried. There is a very old and true saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me (for not learning from the first time).

You reap what you sow Mr. Moon. Another thing you failed to learn early on.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

Moon's words are without substance and hollow as he has not voiced any such ideas made or any effort to quell the onesided demands and verdicts in the past. As said before, the die was cast way before this when the entire S Korean schools system "encouraged" youth participation opposing Japan, from some years ago. They have been indoctrinated to dislike Japanese based upon what happened during WWII. The final throw of the die was when their Supreme Court made its ruling without due representation by the accused.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

Moon created this problem and now pretends to propose a solution.

What a piece of garbage.

24 ( +25 / -1 )

This is from today's Japan Times: "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday reiterated denials that the checks were a form of retaliation against South Korea for recent court rulings holding Japanese companies liable for cases of forced labor before and during World War II" ("South Korean leader urges Japan to withdraw export curbs as survey shows most Japanese back them").

So according to Abe, his administration is being cool about S.K. making Japanese companies pay their former slave laborers; like he's in a good space about it though he might not dig it. So if reparations are not the problem what is the problem about "a bitter dispute over tightened Japanese control of exports of high-tech materials used by South Korean companies to produce semiconductors and displays"? From what I gather the the diplomatic language the problems in bad vibes. S.K. is not sending out the good vibes Japan wants. Or maybe these are old vibes that are not good enough for Abe & Co.

The solution of course is not to talk about reparation but to talk about Japanese exports to South Korea. Then if they establish good vibes in their these talks Japan is okay and S.K. is okay. Okay?

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

Simply put, S Korea has lost its integrity and trust with the Japanese in more ways than one.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

The Japanese move to control exports triggered an angry response in South Korea, where many believe Japan still hasn't fully acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed during its colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Wouldn't be an article about SK and Japan without this soundbyte

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Basically the only solution is for SK to become a compulsive signatory to ICJ and solve all issues once and for all at ICJ. There will be NO be a bilateral negotiations between Japan and SK with all the back pedaling SK had done.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

@Ganbare Japan!

Ha ha, crooked Moon realizes Japan is capable of destroying the SK economy

Not at all. This is just a formal step before making the WTO challenge, in which Korea is expected to prevail because of a GATT precedence export control case like this between Europe and Japan in which Japan lost more than 30 years ago. Moon knows Abe san would say no but has to make this procedural challenge before going with the formal lawsuit.

Korea is expected to file the WTO lawsuit shortly after Japan's councilor election.

-17 ( +3 / -20 )

The previous agreement was with the monster Park Geun-hye, now serving 20 years in jail for corruption and abuse of power. Do agreements still count when made by deranged cultists?

When it comes to the reputation of a country, yes. That may not be fair, but the world isn't fair. The fact is that agreements between countries are only as strong as the word they are made on. Koreans elected a cultist, who in turn made a move that has severely impacted upon South Korea's ability to be taken seriously and negotiate with Japan.

This is why people need to be very careful about electing a populist, as the damage done by a populist can have repercussions for decades, even if they are only around for a few years.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

What would be a countermeasure that Korea could take? I really don’t think the angry Koreans will resolve this easily.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

It is wrong to believe that every japanese is crazy.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Talk about irrelevancy, the GATT example Samit Basu posts about is Japan's application that had been blocked in the 1950's 70 years ago.

Has no similarity in case with the present situation.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

@quercetum

What would be a countermeasure that Korea could take?

Any product delivery delays resulting from Japan's export control, Japanese customers will be the last to take delivery of finished product.

First priority would be US customers, Korean customers second, Chinese customers third, European customers fourth, and Japanese customers the last.

@Triring

the GATT example Samit Basu posts about is Japan's application that had been blocked in the 1950's 70 years ago.

Stop talking about subjects you don't understand. You have a bad habit of doing this.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-89-487_en.htm

Following the GATT Council recommendations adopted in May, 1988, Japan  has now announced its intention to fully implement these  recommendations. This will remove the restraints and controls imposed  by Japan on its semiconductor exports to the Community and other third countries as a consequence of its 1986 agreement with the United States.

 Following numerous contacts with the Commission, Japan has now  accepted to bring its measures relating to exports of semiconductors  to countries other than the United States into conformity with the GATT as of 1 June, 1989.

-14 ( +0 / -14 )

Samit Basu

Why does S.K go to WTO? Aren't those materials easily replaceable by other domestic suppliers?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Sth Korea has harmed its own credibility with this latest round of antics. Why make agreements with them if the words "finally and irreversibly" mean nothing of the sort after less than 5 years.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Diplomacy isn't about a word, or words. Diplomacy is about relationship, about how to make others happy.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

@showchinmono

Why does S.K go to WTO?

To win damages against Japan in the form of punitive tariffs, and to warn Abe's successor to never screw up like this again.

WTO has established via several cases that the only acceptable export control is when two countries are about to go to war, like Ukraine vs Russia.

Abe san should have declared war against Korea before imposing this export control, because it will be overturned at the WTO and punitive tariffs levied on Japanese products of Korea's choosing, namely automobile, beer, cosmetics, etc.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Again has no relevance to the present issue at hand;

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-89-487_en.htm

Japanese export price controls on semiconductors exported not only to the US market, but also to other markets, including that of the Community. Action was also taken to control the level of production.

If Japan does not see SK worthy of white country preferential treatment then no nation has the right to lodge a protest to it, it's Japan who decides if that nation is worthy or not not the other way around.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

@Triring

Again has no relevance to the present issue at hand;

Of course completely relevant and pretty much identical circumstances.

In 1988, WTO's predecessor GATT ruled that Japan's semiconductor export control was illegal.

In 2020, WTO will once again rule that Japan's semiconductor material export control is illegal.

This is why WTO legal experts are puzzled by Abe's decision, because it will be overturned by WTO with a 100% certainty and Japan held liable for punitive tariffs to compensate Korea's claimed losses.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The Government of South Korean must comply to the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea signed 22 june 1965.

The option of treaty 3rd party dispute resolution is applicable. Their is no other solution.

The present so called splat is all the result of the hapless, foolish South Korean President Moon Jae-in own making and Moon must take full responsibility for the political and economic outcome using South Korean Courts and Judiciary for his own narrow minded politcal agenda.

Failure to comply could provoke further punitive diplomatic protection measures.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Samit BasuToday  11:20 am JST

@showchinmono

Why does S.K go to WTO?

To win damages against Japan in the form of punitive tariffs, and to warn Abe's successor to never screw up like this again.

I see. Pure politically motivated retaliation isn't it? That's exactly what Moon criticizing Japan about. lol

WTO has established via several cases that the only acceptable export control is when two countries are about to go to war, like Ukraine vs Russia.

If you meant how WTO follows GATT21 in prohibiting export control...you missing most of it.

Article XXI: Security Exceptions

    Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed

(a)  to require any contracting party to furnish any information the disclosure of which it considers contrary to its essential security interests; or

 

(b)  to prevent any contracting party from taking any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests

 

(i)   relating to fissionable materials or the materials from which they are derived;

(ii)  relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition and implements of war and to such traffic in other goods and materials as is carried on directly or indirectly for the purpose of supplying a military establishment;

 

(iii)   taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations; or

 

(c)  to prevent any contracting party from taking any action in pursuance of its obligations under the United Nations Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

People will talk, as long as there is a breath.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

As for evidence supporting Japan's decision here it is,

The Korean minority party forced the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources to release A document called "Strategic Material Unauthorized Export Demonstration Situation" . Strategic supplies refer to articles and techniques that can be diverted into mass-production weapons and vehicles. According to sources, 156 cases of illegal exports were caught from 2015 to March this year. The number of cases caught in 14 in 15 years nearly tripled with 41 last year. Especially this year has seen a surge in 31 cases by March》

"There is a possibility that strategic supplies (of domestic production) may have flowed to North Korea, Iran, etc. via a third country." 53 conventional weapons, 29 nuclear weapons related, 2 missile weapons, 1 chemical weapon

The article listed names such as China, Russia, Syria and Indonesia as illegal export destinations. Both are countries close to North Korea and Iran.

Mr. Moon became president in May 17 The article shows that illegal exports have increased dramatically under the government. Naturally, there should be cases where they have not been caught.

If North Korea and Iran have strategic supplies flowing from South Korea via a third country, the liberal nations such as the United States will not leave it.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Funny very 1st words popped out of Moon's mouth after long silence is "unprecedented emergency".

Is this really?! Nah I don't think enough at all. I wish real punishments would come out soon and they would probably have heart-attack?

I don't even think this should be called export control. It is simply an ordinary treatment Japan keeps applying to many other trading partners like India, Indonesia, etc...

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A vicious cycle created by measures and countermeasures wouldn't be ideal for both countries. 

Yet what have you done to stop or mitigate the decisions made by the Korean courts regarding compensation claims made against Japanese corporations?

You think it's a one way street?

Put your money where your mouth is!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Stop going back on past agreements then!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@showchinmono

Funny very 1st words popped out of Moon's mouth after long silence is "unprecedented emergency".

Is this really?! Nah I don't think enough at all. I wish real punishments would come out soon and they would probably have heart-attack?

It is not funny at all. It is very serious.

S. Korean and Moon are panic as a new kamikaze attack will start soon in the form of trade war.

Whether the suicidal attack will be effective or not, its psychological impacts have been proven to be tremendous. https://www.pbs.org/perilousfight/psychology/the_kamikaze_threat/

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

To the in-denial down voting history revisionists, hard irrefutable facts care not for your feelings.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Japan is calmly angry

2 ( +2 / -0 )

IloveCoffeeJuly 9  07:44 am JST

NOW he wants to talk.

When did he not want to talk? As far as i know, it was SK that kept wanting to resolve this issue, and Japan that kept rejecting every call saying the issue was already resolved? It was SK that called for joint fund, and Japan that rejected it. It was Moon that wanted to talk during the G-20, and Abe that ignored him. Have i missed something?

26 downvotes(as of now) already answered to your question. Yes you have. SK ignored Japan's formal requests to talk/arbitrate twice and then conditionalize it upon Japan's accepting the proposed fund.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you're going back 80 years to seize assets from your biggest economic partner, you're going to get burned.

All this anti-Japanese political populism was going to end up in tears for Moon. Abe and Aso are no minions and they know it. Like it or not Japan are the 3rd or 4th most powerful economy in the world.

Only a fool would start seizing assets from a powerful neighbour they rely on, in order to satisfy their populist ideals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Diplomacy isn't about a word, or words. Diplomacy is about relationship, about how to make others happy.

These things are all inexorably linked. Diplomacy is about the relationship, with which allies, generally means keeping them happy, the method going about so including keeping one's word. Keeping one's word is also important when dealing with enemies, as other enemies will watch your actions, and model their future responses based on your actions. So if you have shown that you will go back on your word in agreements with enemies, it severely impairs your ability to come to agreements with other enemies in the future.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Overplayed his hand, so now he wants to backtrack?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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