Japan touts national security in a spat with South Korea after high-tech restrictions
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The government of Japan is issuing national security concerns in the latest spat with South Korea. While, in the opposite direction, South Korea once more is using historical war-time issues that need to be addressed, in accordance with the demands of political elites in Seoul. Of course, for America, it must be baffling that two allies are once more at loggerheads in a region of high geopolitical importance.
Hence, officials from both nations met in Tokyo to discuss the reasons behind Japan’s new restrictions on sensitive high-tech exports to South Korea. Yet, given the prevailing conditions between Japan and South Korea, then it is likely that both nations will be arguing from completely different perspectives.
Reuters reports, “Complicating the matter are Japanese media reports that some quantity of one of the materials covered by the export curbs, hydrogen fluoride, was shipped to North Korea after being exported to the South. Hydrogen fluoride can be used in chemical weapons.”
In response to certain comments made in Japan about the possible transference of important high-tech products and extremely sensitive materials that could be utilized negatively in North Korea, the nation of South Korea hit back at these allegations. Thereby, the Deputy Director of National Security in South Korea, Kim You-geun, poured cold water on any wrongdoing.
He stipulated strongly, “We express deep regret that senior Japanese officials have been recently making irresponsible comments without presenting a clear basis for them, suggesting our government was violating export controls and not enforcing sanctions.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea come from two different political spectrums. Hence, for America, given the seriousness of events on the Korean Peninsula and the growing might of China, then simmering tensions between Japan and South Korea is a headache that seriously isn’t needed. Yet, Abe and Moon appear aloof towards each other and public opinion in both nations can easily turn to petty nationalism at the drop of a hat. Therefore, the situation is disconcerting because it is incumbent on both sides to reach out diplomatically and to address mutual differences given the delicate nature of Northeast Asia.
Japan’s restrictions will put pressure on chipmakers in South Korea that includes SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics Co. – these cogs will, in turn, affect the supply chain. At the same time, Japan may remove the nation of South Korea from an important trusted export market list, which in turn will put further pressure on this nation. Hence, South Korea is turning to America to put pressure on Japan. However, it remains to be seen how the administration of President Donald Trump will respond to this important situation.
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