TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s cabinet on Friday approved a plan to remove South Korea from a list of countries that enjoy minimum export controls, a move likely to escalate tensions fuelled 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 high-tech materials needed to make memory chips and display panels.
The cabinet has approved the move, Japan’s industry minister, Hiroshige Seko said.
Japan has said the measures are based on national security concerns, citing South Korea’s insufficient export controls as well as the erosion of trust after South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese firms compensate wartime forced labourers.
Japan says the issue of compensation was settled by a 1965 treaty that normalised ties between Tokyo and Seoul.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Yoshifumi Takemoto; editing by Linda Sieg and David Dolan)