Japan’s cabinet approved a plan to remove South Korea from a list of countries that enjoy minimum export controls, a move likely to escalate tensions fueled by a dispute over compensation for wartime forced labourers.
The decision to drop South Korea from the “white list,” a step that has been protested fiercely by Seoul, comes a month after Japan tightened curbs on exports to South Korea of three hi-tech materials needed to make memory chips and display panels.
The decision would take effect from Aug. 28, Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told a briefing. He said the trade control was not a countermeasure and was done from the standpoint of Japan’s national security.
South Korea would be the first country to be removed from Japan’s white list, which currently has 27 countries including Germany, Britain and the United States.
South Korean officials have warned they may reconsider an intelligence-sharing accord with Japan if the feud worsens.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday he hoped the two would find a solution by themselves, stressing cooperation on North Korea was “incredibly important”.