The Japanese government has confirmed that it will remove South Korea from its “white list” of trusted trading partners as planned on Wednesday. Tokyo decided to downgrade South Korea from Group A of preferred trading partners to Group B at a cabinet meeting on August 2 and announced a revision of its export control law on its official gazette on August 7.
Members of the Japanese Cabinet made tough remarks on Tuesday, a day before the revised law takes effect, saying that there will be no changes regarding its decision. Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said during a regular press conference that the measure does not intend to affect the South Korea-Japan relation as it is a part of “appropriate export control measures.” He added that Japan plans to “uphold (the export control) in a serious manner,” reiterating his argument that Japan is not imposing a trade embargo on South Korea.
When asked about South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon’s remarks made the other day that South Korea could consider extending the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) if Japan undoes its unreasonable export control measures, the Japanese trade minister said Japan’s export control measures and an agreement signed between countries on military intelligence are completely different matters, practically refusing the suggestion by the South Korean Prime Minister.
Answering to foreign reporters’ questions about the impact of the termination of GSOMIA on the South Korea-Japan relationship, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the most important issue between the two nations is the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations. He added that if South Korea wishes to write history again, it should know that it is impossible. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there have been negative and irrational moves on the part of South Korea, including the termination of GSOMIA and Tokyo will demonstrate a concerted stance and demand South Korea to respond wisely.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe echoed the remarks by Suga during a press conference at the conclusion of the G7 summit in France on Tuesday. He said it is regrettable to see South Korea taking measures that will impair mutual trust between the two countries and he will urge South Korea to uphold promises it made with Japan.
Experts view that Japan keeps taking tough stance against South Korea as the latter hit back at Japan with a tit-for-tat response. According to a telephone survey of 1,067 people conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun between Friday to Sunday, 65 percent of the respondents said they “support” Tokyo’s decision to remove South Korea from its “white list.” The Sankei Shimbun ran a provocative editorial article on Tuesday that read a penalty is necessary in response to South Korea’s abnormal behavior and sanctions need to be considered.