Japan is now considering turning up the heat in the form of export controls on more items bound for South Korea. This was learned from official government sources, via the Japan Times, Kyodo. Now we know that Japan and Korea do have a difficult past, as Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula in the early 1900s as it was part of the Japanese expansion into Asia. By all standards, Colonial Japan was harsh in its treatment – as stated by previous Prime Ministers and even the Japanese Emperor. Now this story is framed in the context of mutual trust and the use of Japanese materials used in production of semiconductors and displays for smartphones and TVs. Japan would like to, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, control three products for national security reasons. The three materials being targeted are fluorinated polyimide, hydrogen floride and resists.
They can also be used for military purposes such as biological and chemical weapons, according to officials. But the fractures on the relationship run long and deep. Seoul is now saying that it will lodge a complaint against Japan in the WTO or World Trade Organization.
Our Views as follows: There is no doubt that the long history of Japan and South Korea has been full of missteps. The recent G20 Summit proved that Japan is ready to lead in Asia and having a close ally like South Korea would be ideal.
We suggest that Japan and South Korea ramp up 1. cross cultural events that include sports – given the 2020 Olympics just around the corner, sports would be a great start, 2. have a more robust university exchange system – getting more Japanese students to study Korean in Seoul and then bringing more Korean students to come to Tokyo and Osaka and 3. encourage more joint military exercises between the two with the US hosting. The US conducts military exercises with Japan and South Korea separately, but how about all three working together? More on this topic again in the coming weeks.