TOKYO – The government of Japan authorized on Thursday the first shipment of key materials used in the tech industry to South Korea, after applying strict restrictions in July due to the current tensions between the two countries.
The authorization was granted after the ministry of economy, trade and industry “rigorously” examined the request and determined that the shipments will not have any military applications and thus “do not pose a risk to national security,” the ministry’s head, Hiroshige Seko, explained at a press conference.
The ministry did not give any details regarding the content of the authorized shipment.
As a result of the tightened restrictions, Japan made it mandatory to request permissions for exports of fluorinated polyimide, hydrogen fluoride and photoprotection materials to South Korea, all used in the production of semiconductors and memory chips.
Tokyo maintains that the measure seeks to prevent the use of the materials in military equipment, while Seoul asserts that it is an embargo in response to the dispute between the two countries regarding compensation for South Korean workers enslaved during the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula.
The difference of views on the case has brought bilateral relations to one of the lowest points in decades and the dispute intensified when Japan decided last week to remove South Korea from its list of preferential trading partners.
The measures complicate Seoul’s access to these key materials by considerably increasing the bureaucracy to access them, and the impact it has on one of its main industries remains unclear.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said at his daily press conference on Thursday that the restrictions adopted were “not an export ban” and that this shipment authorization demonstrates that permission will be given as long as the trade is fair and the materials are used for the purpose requested.