Published: Thu, July 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

USA diplomat says United States won't intervene in Japan-S.Korea dispute

USA diplomat says United States won't intervene in Japan-S.Korea dispute

Last week, the Japanese government tightened the rules for exporting sensitive materials to South Korea, potentially hurting the country's TV and smartphone manufacturing.

The curbs were seen as a response to South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate wartime forced laborers, Reuters said.

North Korea has criticized South Korea for the latter's purchase and ongoing deployment of American F-35 stealth fighter jets and threatened it will respond by developing and testing its own special weapons to destroy the aircraft.

Tokyo lodged a protest against Seoul, said it had broken an agreement on what the two sides would disclose from the Friday discussions on Japan's curbs of exports to Korea of some materials used to make high-tech equipment.

Other reports show Japan also exported luxury goods to North Korea between 2008 and 2009. including Mercedes-Benz and Lexus vehicles, cigarettes, drinks and pianos.

Moon warned at a meeting with senior aides that Japan's recent imposition of curbs on exports of high-tech materials to South Korea would inflict greater damage on the Japanese economy and urged Tokyo to return to talks.

The unnamed North Korean government researcher commented that South Korea's purchase of the American jets was meant to please the United States despite it being an extremely risky action that can worsen military tensions.

"To halt unnecessary disputes and to determine factual basis of the Japanese government's claims, we suggest a panel of UN Security Council experts or an appropriate global organization to conduct a fair investigation into any cases of four major export control violations by South Korea and Japan", Kim said.

When pressed by South Korean officials, the Japanese officials said the cases were unrelated to illegal shipments to a third country but refused to provide details, Lee said.

South Korean leader Moon Jae-in was left on the sidelines of a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump at the inter-Korean border in June, and there have been few signs that relations have improved.

Complicating the matter are Japanese media reports that some quantity of one of the materials covered by the export curbs, hydrogen fluoride, was shipped to North Korea after being exported to the South. Hydrogen fluoride can be used in chemical weapons.

The Japanese measures have stoked public anger in South Korea, where many believe Japan still hasn't fully acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed during its colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

Tokyo says the materials affected by the export controls can be sent only to trustworthy trading partners.

"I encourage both sides to sit down and talk and find a positive way out of the situation", he said.

It plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization and has denied the Japanese allegations that it allowed sensitive materials to reach North Korea.

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