See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

Trade war looming between S Korea and Japan

Moon Jae-in urges South Korean companies to brace for all possibilities in trade row with Japan.


Written by

Updated: July 11, 2019

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has reiterated calls for Japan to withdraw export restrictions imposed against his country, while urging South Korean companies to prepare for all possibilities, including a prolonged trade stand-off.

Mr Moon told leaders from South Korea’s top 30 conglomerates on Wednesday (July 10) that the government is doing its best to find a diplomatic solution to the “unprecedented emergency situation” and will seek international cooperation to cope with what is deemed as Tokyo’s retaliation against Seoul’s handling of an earlier row over their wartime past.

“I hope the Japanese government will respond and stop going towards a dead end,” he said.

“For political reasons the Japanese government took measures that will damage the Korean economy… that is never desirable for the friendship and security cooperation between our two countries.”

Restrictions on Japan’s export of three chemicals vital to South Korean chipmakers went into effect last Thursday.

This would prolong the process of seeking approval for export to South Korea, essentially dealing a huge blow to companies like Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which rely heavily on Japan for the materials. Japan produces up to 90 per cent of these chemicals.

Mr Moon promised to provide active support for domestic production of the sanctioned materials, while urging the companies to rely less on imports for core technologies, devices and materials.

He also stressed the need to establish a joint emergency response system to allow the government and the corporate sector to combine efforts against Japan’s move.

A spokesman from the presidential Blue House said the business leaders – including SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor executive vice-chairman Chung Eui-sun and LG chairman Koo Kwang-mo – agreed with the need to work closely with relevant ministries to devise various measures to cope with Japan’s export curbs.

They also stressed the need to diversify supply chains and tap the expertise of other countries such as Germany and Russia, the spokesman said.

But in interviews with media, some business representatives voiced concern that the meeting with Mr Moon could send the wrong message to Japan and strain their ties with Japanese partners.

One representative told The Korea Herald that it is “always risky for a company to be involved between governments”.

Another one told The Korea Times that Wednesday’s meeting may be seen as “Korea having one voice that Japan’s move is unfair, but at the same time sending a signal to Japanese partners that firms are blending politics into their businesses”.

Experts told The Straits Times that the issue requires a diplomatic solution as it stems from a row over their shared history.

Tension between the two neighbours soared last October, after South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese steelmakers to compensate wartime forced labourers from Korea. The issue escalated with South Korea ordering the seizure of the local assets of Japanese firms and refusing to form an arbitration panel to resolve the dispute.

Observers have warned that Japan, which maintains that all war-related issues were settled in the 1965 treaty signed to normalise ties, would one day retaliate.

Asan Institute for Policy Studies senior fellow Shin Beom-chul said Japan is trying to exert pressure on South Korea to bring about change on the forced labour issue. He expects the two sides to meet soon, at least at the foreign minister’s level, to discuss the situation.

“It’s possible that they can come to a compromise, but it will take some time. Both sides know they are not enemies, even though their political positions are very complicated. Eventually they will agree, at a certain level.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Economics

Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak. One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved. Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety. On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement se


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M


By Daily Star
March 10, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai


By The Star
March 9, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the


By ANN Members
March 6, 2020