During a meeting with the heads of South Korea’s top 30 conglomerates on Wednesday, President Moon Jae-in described Japan’s export curbs as “unprecedented emergency” while delivering a calm yet strong message to Tokyo. He called for a diplomatic resolution by the two countries, but stressed that the recent actions taken by Japan were from a “political motive.” With regards to the Japanese government’s criticism of South Korea citing “security concerns,” the South Korean president said, “It is not desirable at all that Japan makes remarks that link the (trade) measures to sanctions on North Korea," calling them “groundless.”
The export regulations by Tokyo may put a strain on the South Korean economy as the second and third rounds of measures can be taken. The current Abe administration of Japan is likely to put continuous pressure taking advantage of export inspections, which are somewhat arbitrary and discretionary. President Moon expressed determination to prepare against the worst-case scenario in concern of a potential prolonging of the current situation with more export restrictions by Japan. However, no special countermeasure was put forward at the Wednesday meeting. The currently available solution remains at providing governmental support for companies’ own efforts to diversify importing countries as South Korean businesses are highly dependent on Japan’s technology.
The meeting with the leaders of 30 conglomerates was also held to come up with joint response measures between the South Korean government and businesses to brace up for the recent development. As such, potential damage to the South Korean economy and step-by-step detailed countermeasures must be identified by forecasting further regulations by Japan. While calling for global attention to the unfairness of Japan, support measures for the South Korean companies must be developed. Furthermore, in-depth plans are required in the case of the worst-case scenario where Tokyo may expand its retaliatory actions to finance and security.
Nevertheless, a bilateral diplomatic resolution is the best option. The conglomerate leaders at the meeting also said, “It must be resolved through communication,” and promised to help convince Japan. An emotional response will only worsen the situation – a flexible yet firm approach is needed. A potential course of appeasement with Japan may be revised for the national interests. Multilateral contacts with various fields in Japan must be made while listening to the opinions of the victims of the historical actions by Japan in order to find appropriate solutions. Incompetent diplomacy in blind favor of goodwill or justice shall not be forgiven.