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S. Korea’s Moon condemns Japan’s ‘reckless’ trade decision

3 August 2019 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in yesterday condemned Japan’s decision to remove his country from a ‘white list’ of favoured trading partners, calling it a ‘very reckless’ move and threatening unspecified countermeasures.


Tokyo’s move is a “selfish, destructive act that will cripple the global supply chain and wreak havoc on the global economy”, he said in remarks to a cabinet meeting called at short notice and televised live.


“The Japanese government must withdraw its unilateral and unwarranted measures as soon as possible and take a path toward dialogue,” he added in resolute tones, wearing a jacket and shirt but no tie.


“I unequivocally warn that the Japanese government will be entirely held accountable for what will unfold going forward.”


Neighbours Japan and South Korea are both democracies, market economies and US allies faced with threats from North Korea and an ever more assertive China.


But their own relations are soured by bitter disputes over territory and history stemming from Tokyo’s colonial rule over the peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.


Moon said Seoul will “step up our responses in a phased manner” to its neighbour, a key trading partner with which it did US$85 billion of business last year.


“If Japan -- even though it has great economic strength - attempts to harm our economy, the Korean government also has countermeasures with which to respond,” he said, threatening to inflict “significant damage”. Moon regularly highlights Japan’s past colonial rule and stresses the independence struggle is at the heart of national identity in both Koreas, while framing the South’s right wing as the descendants of pro-Japanese collaborators.

 

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