Director-General Lee Ho-hyeon of the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Engery for International Trade Policy issued a statement on May 5, 2020 asking Japan to ease trade restrictions placed on Korea in July 2019.
The Korean government asked Japan to respond by the end of May to the request from Korea to lift the export restrictions imposed by Japan on three key materials that Korea uses to produce some of its top products, including semiconductors, smartphones and displays.
DG Lee said in a statement issued that day’ “We’re asking the Japanese government to respond by the end of this month, considering the fact that Japan is in an emergency situation due to the spread of COVID-19 viruses,” said DG Lee on May 12.
Lee said that Korea has met all of the Japanese government's requests, including addressing Japan's claims of lax export controls, which she cited last year as a threat to its national security.
DG Lee stated that in the past 10 months since the Japanese government tightened its export control on the 2 key materials for semiconductor and display production (e.g., EUV photoresists, hydrogen fluoride and fluorinated polyimide), there have been established ‘healthy export practices’. Lee said that the Japanese government has granted Korea three-year bulk permits on photoresists.
“No problems have occurred regarding [Japanese] exports to Korea,” Lee said. “All necessary conditions to resolve the issue with the Japanese government have been met and there are no reasons for hesitating in the roll-back on the strengthened export regulations.”
The director-general for international trade policy did not indicate what recourse Korea would seek if Japan fails to respond by the end of the month.
“Both countries are faced with difficult situations in overcoming Covid-19,” Lee said. “As there are many areas in which both countries should cooperate, we hope that Korea and Japan will move forward in a more advanced direction while quickly finalizing the export issue.”