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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 31 - August 6  > Abe gov’t drops South Korea from ‘white list’ of preferential trade partners
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2019 July 31 - August 6 [POLITICS]

Abe gov’t drops South Korea from ‘white list’ of preferential trade partners

August 3, 2019

The Abe Cabinet on August 2 decided to amend a government ordinance to remove South Korea from the “white list” of countries that are entitled to preferential treatment in trade.

At a press conference immediately after the Cabinet meeting on the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said that the amendment is “an operational change aimed at ensuring the effectiveness of export controls” and added, “It is not a trade embargo. Japan just decided to treat South Korea equally with other Asian nations.” However, judging from the development of the situation, it is obvious that the Abe Cabinet made the decision in retaliation for South Korea’s handling of the issue of wartime Korean forced laborers in Japan. Governments should not use trade pressure to settle political disputes with other countries.

The Trade Ministry says that, after the revised government ordinance takes effect, South Korea will no longer be eligible for a special treatment under which Japanese exporters can omit individual applications. In addition, Japanese companies will need to obtain approval to export to South Korea goods that can be potentially turned into conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction. The preferential measure for South Korea has been in place since 2004 and no other Asian countries are awarded this preferential treatment.

South Korea criticizes the imposition of the stricter export rules as unfair. Seoul had called on Tokyo to refrain from taking this measure and to hold talks on this issue, but Japan ignored this call. South Korea will consider filing a complaint with the WTO if it finds that Japan’s act causes economic losses.

Past related articles:
> Japan will restrict exports to S. Korea as retaliatory step over the issue of Korean forced laborers [July 11, 2019]

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