Japan downgraded the country of South Korea’s trade status Wednesday, furthering hurting relations between the two.
What We Know:
- This downgrade now forces Japanese manufacturers to apply for approval for each technology-related contract for South Korean export instead of the simpler checks granted to preferential trade partners (like for example the U.S.).
- Due to this decision, South Korea has also downgraded Tokyo’s trade status, which will take effect next month. The capital of South Korea, Seoul, has also canceled a deal to share military intelligence with Japan.
- South Korea has accused Japan of weaponizing trade due to a separate dispute linked to Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. However, Japan denies retaliating and says wartime compensation issues were already settled.
- South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled last year that said the wartime compensation deal, signed in 1965, did not cover individual rights to seek reparations and ordered Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor.
- Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters “Relations between Japan and South Korea continue to be in an extremely serious situation because of South Korea’s repeated negative and irrational actions, including the most critical issue of laborers from the Korean Peninsula…”
- Kim You-geun, deputy director of South Korea’s presidential National Security Office, accused Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of treating South Korea, a longtime ally along with the U.S., like “an enemy state”, stating “Members of the Japanese leadership are talking as if South Korea is an untrustworthy country that does not follow international law…”
- Another issue making tensions worse is South Korea scrapping the military intelligence agreement, which remains in effect until November. Japan and South Korea have shared information about North Korea’s missile launches, the latest of which happened Saturday.
This beef hopefully will be resolved sooner rather than later.