The recent spat between South Korea and Japan sparked off after South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling that demanded that Japan should pay for wartime forced labour of South Korean citizens. This particular ruling from the Supreme Court of South Korea have major implications on the bilateral relations that encompasses trade ties too between the two countries.
From removing each other from the whitelist of preferential trading partners that had given extra weightage and eased in engaging trade between South Korea and Japan to South Korea’s discontinuance of GSMIA (General Security of Military Sharing Agreement) which had enabled sensitive military sharing between Japan and South Korea against North Korea, bilateral relationship between the two countries have only deteriorated. The trade war also have escalated after Japan curbed exports of three chemicals that was needed for the manufacture of memory chips and display screens which are used extensively by South Korean companies that include giants such as Samsung and LG.
South Korea takes Japan’s export curb issue to WTO
South Korea took up this particular issue to WTO asking Japan for a bilateral consultation at the WTO level as South Korea called the exports restrictions as ‘discriminatory’ that affect ‘global economic stability’. Japan had clarified that the export curb was necessary as South Korea wasn’t properly handling sensitive materials i.e the chemicals.Although, Japan is yet to respond for the bilateral consultation at the WTO level, it has said that it wouldn’t review the export restrictions imposed on South Korea.In addition, South Korean cities of Busan and Seoul have also boycotted products of Japanese ‘war crime companies’ including Mitsubishi.
Also, in regard to wartime compensation, Japan have said that it has already paid wartime compensation of 800 million USD in grant and cheap loans to South Korea in a 1965 agreement. And a report in SCMP have said that Japan had issued an apology on comfort women in 1993. In 2015, Japan have struck a deal with South Korea which included compensation to the ‘comfort women’ behind closed doors which was lamented by the survivors. South Korea was a colony of Japan between 1910 till 1945.