(Bloomberg) -- The “inappropriate incidents” that triggered a crackdown by Japan’s trade ministry on specialty material exports to South Korea must have been serious, senior ruling Liberal Democratic Party member Koichi Hagiuda said in a televised debate Sunday on Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
The inappropriate incidents included cases affecting national security where Japanese export materials ended up overseas for weapons use, Tetsuo Saito, a senior member of the Komeito Party in the ruling coalition party, said during the same debate.
Japan on July 1 announced curbs on the export of specialty materials vital to South Korea’s technology sector, triggering concern about disruptions in global supply chains and declines in tech stocks led by Samsung Electronics Co. South Korea’s Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo on Tuesday dismissed accusations that some of the imported materials were diverted to North Korea.
“We believe that the government’s actions were correct,” said Hagiuda, referring to Japan’s decision to take a tougher stance on exports of the specialty materials. “But as Japan and South Korea are important neighbors, it would be disgraceful if this point alone puts the entirety of Japan-South Korean relations at odds.”
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Hagiuda also said that Japan hasn’t strengthened its export control to South Korea, but has merely reversed its preferential treatment. He reiterated comments from other Japanese officials that this was not a retaliatory measure.
South Korea is expected to be removed from a list of so-called “white countries” that are not deemed to present a risk of weapons proliferation. Hagiuda said that unless there’s trust it’s difficult to freely trade with South Korea as a “white country.”
Hagiuda added that if this issue is discussed at the World Trade Organization General Council, the Japanese government will give thorough explanations. Kyodo reported earlier that the issue will be discussed on July 23, 24 at South Korea’s request.
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