(Photo: The Chosun Ilbo Japanese version) ▲ President Yoon Seok-yeol and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida shake hands at a summit in Tokyo on March 16. / Courtesy of the Office of the President of South Korea
At a cabinet meeting on the 27th, the Japanese government decided to revise a government ordinance to return South Korea to “Group A (white countries)” of preferential countries, simplifying export procedures. This is the first time in four years since South Korea was removed from the white list in protest of the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling on compensation for forced labor. Japan also lifted export restrictions on three items of semiconductor materials to South Korea in March this year, and all export restrictions in South Korea have been lifted.
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According to Japanese media such as TV Asahi, the revised ordinance will be promulgated on the 30th of this month and will take effect on the 21st of next month. The white countries are friendly countries that simplify procedures when Japanese companies export goods and technology that can be used for weapons development. Once a target country obtains an export license, it is subject to a “general general license”, which does not require additional licenses for each additional export thereafter. In April this year, South Korea published a “Strategic Goods Import and Export Notification” in its official gazette, which would return Japan to the white list ahead of Japan. It seems that South Korea and Japan have recognized each other as a country that can be trusted when it comes to strategic materials. The conflict between South Korea and Japan over export restrictions escalated in 2018 when the South Korean Supreme Court finalized a ruling ordering Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and other Japanese defendants to compensate victims of forced labor. Japan claimed that the 1965 South Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement had extinguished all liability for damages and asked the South Korean government to find a solution, but the Moon Jae-in administration refused. In 2019, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe retaliated economically by restricting the export of semiconductor materials and removing whitelisted countries, while South Korea also removed Japan from its whitelist, thereby deepened the conflict. South Korea and Japan agreed to restore mutual trust at a summit between South Korean President Yoon Sung-ryeol and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo in March, and relations between the two countries began to soften. On behalf of the defendant Japanese company, South Korea decided to reimburse victims of forced labor through the Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Empire. In response to the Japanese side’s announcement on the 27th, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said: “After the president’s visit to Japan in March provided an opportunity to restore trust between the two countries, South Korea took the initiative in taking measures to return to the white country. Holding political dialogue has fully restored trust between the two countries in the area of export controls.”Tokyo = Song Ho Chul Correspondent