SEOUL, March 6 (Korea Bizwire) –South Korea and Japan have been in talks on the potential lifting of Japan’s yearslong restrictions on exports of key industry materials to South Korea as they have worked to resolve the issue of compensating victims of Japan’s wartime forced labor, Seoul’s industry chief said Monday.
In 2019, Tokyo imposed export controls on three major industrial materials to Seoul, which are essential for chips and displays, and officially removed South Korea from its list of nations given preferential treatment in trade in apparent retaliation for the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling the previous year that ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean forced labor victims.
In response to the export controls, South Korea filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the trade dispute, claiming it is a discriminatory act that violates WTO rules.
“There will be discussions naturally on how to address the export controls and related issues over the course of resolving the forced labor matter,” Minister Lee Chang-yang told reporters.
“Japan’s restrictions, the WTO complaint and other matters will be on the table. … Chances of industry cooperation between the two sides are expected to grow down the road,” he said.
His comments came just after the South Korean government announced a plan to create a foundation in charge of collecting public donations and compensating victims of Japan’s forced labor during its 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea in an effort to resolve the long-running feud between the two neighbors and to improve frayed ties.