South Korea’s finance minister warned July 4 of “corresponding measures” against Japan’s move restricting key supplies for the nation’s semiconductor and display industries, in a major escalation of a long-simmering row over compensation for wartime forced labor.
The diplomatic conflict between Korea and Japan, which have close economic ties despite strains over history and territory, showed signs of moving toward an economic front as Tokyo implemented export restrictions against Seoul on high-tech materials vital for the production of semiconductors and display panels.
Korea has said it will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization to resolve the matter, but Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said earlier in the day that the Korean government will “consider various corresponding measures” unless Japan withdraws export curbs.
“We believe that the Japanese move is a clear act of economic retaliation,” Hong said in an interview with local radio station CBS, adding that the Japanese move would have an adverse impact on both countries.
“If the problem is not settled, surely (Korea) needs to ask the WTO to make a judgment,” Hong added. “But as it takes a long time for the WTO to deliver a verdict, it cannot be the only solution.”
Although Hong didn’t elaborate on what such countermeasures would be, he said Korea will take other necessary measures under domestic and international rules as well.
Starting today Japanese companies need to apply for approval for each contract to export three materials to Korean clients, including major brands such as Samsung, LG and SK.
The three materials are fluorine polyimide, resist and etching gas.
By Ram Garikipati and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)