At WTO, South Korea says Japan using trade as political tool

By Shin Ji-hye

Japan rejected high-level talks that Korea proposed at WTO meeting

  • Published : Jul 25, 2019 - 10:22
  • Updated : Jul 25, 2019 - 10:23

At the World Trade Organization General Council in Geneva, South Korea strongly urged Japan to retract export curbs, saying Tokyo is using trade as a political tool and disrupting trade for political purposes, officials said Thursday.

At the general council, which is the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body, the trade dispute between the two nations was discussed from 12:40 p.m. to 15:30 p.m. (local time) Wednesday.

Kim Seung-ho, deputy minister for multilateral and legal affairs, and Paik Ji-ah, South Korean ambassador to the United Nations, participated in the talks. Shingo Yamagami, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s economic affairs bureau, and Junichi Ihara, Japanese ambassador to Geneva, represented Japan. 

Korean representatives, including Kim Seung-ho (second from right), deputy minister for multilateral and legal affairs, exchange opinions at the WTO General Council on Wednesday in Geneva. (Yonhap)

During the meeting, Kim said Japan’s export measures had resulted from a conflict between the two nations over compensation for victims of forced labor. He warned that using trade as a political tool would seriously disrupt international trade order, according to a ministry statement released Thursday.

He also said Japan’s export curbs intentionally targeted the chip industry -- Korea’s key industry -- and this runs the risk of having an impact on global industrial production beyond Korea.

At the general meeting, the Korean side officially asked Japan to hold a separate high-level meeting in Geneva, but this was rejected, according to the ministry.

Japan’s representatives reiterated their stance that the export measures are unrelated to the forced labor issue and they took action on the grounds of national security.

Other members refrained from commenting on the thorny issue. Sunanta Kangvalkulkij, chairperson of the WTO General Council, said she hopes the two nations find an amicable solution.

Following the talks, Kim told reporters at a press briefing, “We officially asked Japan to have high-level talks at the meeting. But it was rejected.”

“Japan’s rejection of talks shows that it has no confidence and courage to face what (it) has done. Japan is closing its eyes to (what it has done) and shutting its ears to the cries of victims,” he said. 

By Shin Ji-hye(