By Min Yea-ji and Lee Jihae
Seoul | July 17, 2019
Japan's export curbs on Korea will adversely affect billions of consumers worldwide and Seoul and Tokyo should work toward achieving "future-oriented relations," an official government source in Seoul said on July 17.
In a news conference for foreign journalists, the source recalled what Japanese officials said in 2010 during Japan's territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
The source quoted a Japanese official as saying at the time, "It would constitute a violation of rules if (Chinese retaliatory) measures are specifically directed at Japan alone," and the official added, "Japan will lead rule-making efforts in the Asia-Pacific region as well as a rule that applies to the whole region in line with (the rules of the) World Trade Organization (WTO)."
The territorial row with China led the latter taking steps toward economic retaliation. Beijing restricted exports of rare earth elements to Japan, which accounted for approximately 90% of the supply used by Japanese companies. Similarly Korean companies depend on Japan for about 90% of select chemicals necessary for semiconductor production.
Japan filed a complaint with the WTO over the measures, and the global watchdog ruled in Tokyo's favor.
The source said Japan's export restrictions on Korea violate free trade, which Tokyo had stressed in the G-20 summit hosted by Osaka. "This promise (free trade) must be honored because Japan is one of the largest beneficiaries of free trade," he said.
Japan said in the summit that a "free open economy is the foundation for global peace and prosperity."
Science and technology should not be used as tools of war as this will "only lead to tragic consequences," the source said. Noting that products from multinational corporations such as Sony and Apple greatly benefit the world, the source added, "The creativity of such inventions must not be extinguished by government action."
"Korea and Japan can elevate the Northeast Asian region to the next tier of development of technology and innovation," the source said, expressing hope that Japan will hold dialogue to "amicably resolve the issue."