Japan says export curbs for South Korea not in violation of WTO rules

A laborer works in a container area at a port in Tokyo, Japan.
A laborer works in a container area at a port in Tokyo, Japan. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's decision to tighten controls on exports of high-tech materials to South Korea is not in violation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said on Tuesday (July 2).

Seko said the curbs "were a consequence of South Korea failing to present satisfactory measures" to resolve the issue of South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two, he said.

"All trade-related actions by Japan are in line with the WTO rules," said Seko, speaking to reporters after a regular cabinet meeting.

"Because our (mutual) trust has severely damaged, we have judged it is difficult to ensure proper export controls are being taken."

Japan is tightening curbs on exports of three materials used in smartphone displays and chips to South Korea amid the growing dispute over wartime forced labour.

South Korea has denounced the measure as a violation of WTO rules, saying it would take the necessary countermeasures including filing a complaint with the organisation.

Tighter export controls, which take effect on Thursday, will slow the export process by several months, hitting South Korean tech giants such as Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and LG Display.