Japan awaits S.Korean response to trade controls

South Korean vice chairman Jay Y. Lee of Samsung Electronics is traveling to Japan on Sunday. File

Speaking in a political debate hosted by Fuji TV on Sunday, Abe said while South Korea claims to adhere to sanctions against North Korea, "it is clear that [South Korea] does not abide by worldwide promises regarding [forced laborers] so it is only reasonable to think that it will not abide by trade restrictions [against North Korea]".

"The recent trade curbs imposed by Japan have raised concern over disruption in production for our companies and the threat it poses to global supply chains".

A deepening row between South Korea and Japan has put Samsung's money makers under threat.

Analysts say the measure won't have a meaningful impact immediately on South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix Inc., which both have sufficient supplies of the materials for now, given the slowdown in demand for semiconductors.

South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Monday South Korea could be working toward global cooperation with the United States and other countries to push back against Japanese restrictions.

A source at one of South Korea's top memory chipmakers said chipmakers would have to try to build stockpiles.

South Korea previously had preferential treatment from Japan for export of these materials.

Lee was reportedly on a trip to Japan to seek a breakthrough in the neighboring country's export restrictions that began last week.

The materials, including fluorine polyimide, photoresist and etching gas, are used to produce semiconductors and display panels that inevitably influence the manufacturing of smartphones, TVs and other tech products.

The forced wartime labour issue is the latest flashpoint in a relationship long over-shadowed by South Korean resentment of Japan's 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula.

Specifically, it plans to remove South Korea from a "white" list of countries with minimum trade restrictions, requiring Japanese exporters to go through a lengthy permit application process each time they want to export restricted items to South Korea, it said.

Japan has said the moves are not in violation of WTO rules.

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