Technology is one of the biggest industries in South Korea and over the years, the country has imported key components from Japan. However, it has now emerged that a dispute between the two countries with regards to a labor law dating back to the Second World War could result in Japan curbing its tech imports to South Korea considerably. Japan supplies South Korea with such integral components like chips and smartphone displays, which are hugely important to the country’s smartphone industry. The whole thing dates back to the Second World War when South Koreans had been forced to work at Japanese companies.
An important court in South Korea had then passed a ruling that workers who had been forced to work for Nippon Steel should be compensated adequately. Following the verdict, officials in Tokyo had contacted their counterparts in Seoul, but so far no breakthrough has come about and that has raised frustrations among officials in Japan. Eventually, Japan took this step in order to send a message, but it has also drawn strong condemnation from South Korea. The curbs to exports will come into effect on Thursday this week and it is going to be extremely damaging for smartphone manufacturing companies like LG and Samsung, among others. It is a measure that could soon spiral out of control if the two nations do not come to some sort of compromise with regards to the ruling by the South Korean court.
The industry minister of South Korea, Sung Yun-mo stated, We will take necessary countermeasures, including filing a complaint to the (World Trade Organization). Our government expressed deep regret “over Japan’s tightening of its materials shipments.” It is interesting to note that the foreign ministry of South Korea had also set up a meeting with the Japanese ambassador and had demanded that the curbs be withdrawn. However, it seems that Tokyo has taken a harder stand regarding the matter. A Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry representative stated,
South Korea has failed to show any satisfactory measures to resolve the forced labor issue and severely damaged mutual trust. As trust has been lost, we cannot have a dialogue and are unable to ensure that proper export controls are being taken.