Senior government officials and presidential aides said Sunday South Korea-Japan relations are at a crossroads, and vowed to reduce the country’s reliance on Japanese imports by investing 1 trillion won to localize key industrial components.
“South Korea-Japan relations are at a major crossroads as Japan’s decision to remove South Korea from its list of trusted partners is a huge provocation igniting a bilateral trade war,” ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Chairman Lee Hae-chan said at the start of a meeting of the officials at the National Assembly.
“The government plans to use the Japanese action as an opportunity to cut South Korea’s reliance on Japanese components and materials related industries. We will be consistent in moving forward with current and future plans to make South Korea’s supply chain much more independent,” Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said.
Senior presidential secretary for state policy Kim Sang-jo criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, stating Japan was “consistently denying its past wrongdoings before and after World War II.” The presidential aide added Japan was trying to threaten South Korea’s future. “We will definitely apply policy measures to minimize estimated losses,” he added.
Also present at the meeting were the finance, trade, startup and industry ministers.
The trade dispute began in early July when Tokyo placed restrictions on the exports of fluorinated polyamides, photoresists, and hydrogen fluoride ? chemical materials used to make computer chips, display panels, and other high-tech products. Japan accounts for almost 100 percent of the production of fluorinated polyamide and photoresists, and nearly 70 percent of hydrogen fluoride.
Under its initiative, the government plans to provide administrative and financial assistance including heavy exemption from taxes for firms which invest in materials and components production to be used in advanced memory chips, batteries and display panels. Prime Minister Lee said the government will team up with conglomerates to “substantially increase” the number of research staff in sectors in which the country has weak presence.
It remains to be seen whether the meeting covered the issue of terminating or renewing a bilateral military intelligence-sharing deal with Japan. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Presidential National Security Advisor Kim Hyun-chong earlier said Seoul will “seriously consider” ending the military intelligence-sharing pact as the country views the Japanese trade restrictions as an act against mutual trust.
President Moon Jae-in said the trade restrictions were, to all intents and purposes, retaliation for the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling last year that ordered Japanese companies to compensate Koreans forced to work for them during World War II.
The Japanese government claimed all such issues were settled under the broader 1965 agreement that normalized relations between the two countries, by which Tokyo provided financial assistance including soft loans and reparations.
*Original article online at http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/08/356_273387.html