Japan is one of the most populous countries in the world with a population of over 124 million people. The country is also one of the richest in the world and boasts a rich military history and an amazing culture. While there is a lot that Japanese people can boast about, the country has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons of late. Recently, news broke out that Japan and South Korea had imposed trade restrictions on each other. While the two countries may both be the closest allies of the United States, they have a history none of them wants to remember.
The South Korean government recently accused Japan of lacking a commitment to UN sanctions against North Korea. This is after Japan restricted the export of certain products to South Korea. This export restriction led to a global supply shortage of a number of products that are manufactured in South Korea.
Japan had claimed that hydrogen fluoride exported to South Korea was found in North Korea. Since this chemical can be used to make chemical weapons, Japan saw it fit to restrict the exportation of this chemical and several other products to South Korea.
In retaliation, South Korea announced that it will be reducing its dependence on Japanese industries. This means sourcing from China, Russia and other countries that produce hydrogen fluoride and other high-tech materials that South Korea needs to retain its global position as a top electronics manufacturer.
It is important to note that South Korea had already appealed the decision to remove it from Japan’s white list, a list of nations with exceptional export controls. However, Japan rejected the appeal and maintained the restrictions. South Korea now plans to take the matter to the World Trade Organization on July 23 or 24 this year.
Investors around the world are watching what will happen at the WTO general council meeting on July 23-24, with most people waiting to see if the US will intervene. Since both Japan and South Korea are the biggest Asian allies of the United States, experts claim Trump will not take sides.
However, the US government is likely to encourage dialogue and mediation as the restricted exports from Japan to South Korea is likely to affect the global electronics market, even in the US. This means that it is in the best interest of the United States to have the matter resolved as soon as possible.
The bad blood between the two countries started decades, if not centuries ago. In the early 20th century, for instance, Japan colonized South Korea and forced its citizens to work for Japanese occupiers. In fact, this persisted until the second world war. There are also accusations of Japanese solders using South Korean women as sex slaves during this period.
In 2018, the Supreme Court of South Korea made a ruling that worsened the situation. The court ordered Mitsubishi, one of the most successful Japanese companies, to compensate victims of forced labor. After the ruling, Japan issued a strong rebuke noting that the matter was settled when the 1965 treaty was signed. The ruling denied the reputation of Mitsubishi. By compensating individuals who claim to be victims of forced labor, the brand reputation of Mitsubishi may be significantly affected.
In other news, Japanese customers and tourists have been banned from entering the Yaeyama Style restaurant in the Okinawa Prefecture. The ramen restaurant is a popular restaurant that visitors usually go to whenever they visit the beautiful islands in the area. Ario Akima, the owner of the restaurant has put a notice at the entrance warning all Japanese customers to stay away due to their bad manners, which he claims have deteriorated over the years.