Moon warns of 'strong measures' over Korea's removal from Japan's trade whitelist

August 2, 2019

SEOUL - South Korea's President, Moon Jae-in, has warned that South Korea will resolutely respond to Japan's removal of Korea from a whitelist of preferential trading nations. 

In a hastily convened Cabinet meeting after Japan approved a Bill to delist Korea, he expressed deep regret over the move, saying that the Japanese Government refused to work things out diplomatically and made an impetuous decision by exacerbating bilateral tension. 

"We suggested to the Japanese Government that we solve this crisis diplomatically and for Japan not to walk toward a dead-end," he said. "But Tokyo ultimately refused our suggestion of co-operation to resolve this problem." 

The decision to delist Korea was Japan's "blatant retaliation against the Korean Supreme Court's ruling (that ordered Japanese corporations to pay damages to Koreans victims of forced labour during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in the early 20th century)," he said. 

Moon said that the delisting "violates universal rights and the major principle of international law, which bans forced labour and upholds democracy based on the separation of powers." 

He also warned that Japan's decision was a grave threat to bilateral relations and would damage the mutual trust and economic co-operation built over decades between the two countries. 

"The Japanese government will face criticism from the international community for its selfish actions that disrupt the global supply chain and greatly harm the global economy," he said. 

Moon pledged that his Administration would take measures to respond to Japan's "unjust economic retaliation", saying: "If Japan intentionally deals a blow to our economy, it will also have to endure big losses itself." 

Despite his strong words, the Korean President said he did not want the two countries to engage in a cycle of retaliation. 

"The only solution to this conflict is for Japan to immediately scrap its unilateral and unjust measures and step forward to hold dialogue with Korea," he said. (ATI).