Japan decided to exclude South Korea from its “white list,” countries enjoying simplified export procedure, on Friday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed determination to strongly protest the move, saying “We will never be defeated by Japan again.” The South Korean government has announced that it will also exclude Japan from its own “white list.” Thus, the two countries are now experiencing the most difficult period since the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1965.
The Japanese government held a Cabinet meeting Friday morning and passed an amendment to its executive ordinance on export trade management to exclude South Korea from its “white list” of trusted trading partners. The amendment will be proclaimed on Wednesday next week, before taking effect on August 28. As a result, Japanese companies that are exporting strategic materials and products that can be converted into military use, including machine tools and carbon fibers, should acquire permission from the Japanese Ministry of Economy and Trade whenever signing contracts to export them to South Korea. South Korean companies could see the import process take longer and thus embrace more uncertainty in the course of procuring materials from Japan.
“The decision has been made to properly manage our export because there are deficiencies in South Korea’s export management system and operation,” Japanese Economy and Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters on the day.
“I clearly warn that the Japanese government will be solely responsible for what happens going forward” President Moon said, while presiding over an emergency Cabinet meeting in the afternoon, right after Tokyo’s decision. “We will never be defeated by Japan again. The Republic of Korea is not the same Republic of Korea of the past. We will never let Japan, who is the assailant, speak louder and become offensive towards us,” he said. “We will sternly take measures corresponding to Japan’s unjustified economic retaliations. We have measures to use to counter their offenses.”
At a joint press briefing of related government ministries at the Government Complex in Seoul after the Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said, “South Korea will take steps to drop Japan from our ‘white list,’” adding, “We will beef up safety measures starting with the areas of tourism, food and waste.”
The South Korean National Assembly held a plenary meeting on the same day, where 228 lawmakers in attendance unanimously adopted a resolution demanding Japan to withdraw its retaliatory export restriction measures.