Japan and South Korea bickered over the details of rival briefings about export-control talks on Saturday as the US backed away from a potential role as a mediator in a fight over history and trade between its two Asian allies.
Officials at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held a press conference at which they denied an assertion from South Korea that it had called for the reversal of tighter export controls in a meeting.
Jun Iwamatsu, the director of the trade control policy division, said South Korean officials had gone beyond what the two sides had agreed to tell the media, adding that the ministry had complained to the South Korean Embassy.
Japan said there have been “inappropriate incidents” involving exports of the materials. It is also planning to remove South Korea from a list of so-called “white countries” that are not deemed to present a risk of weapons proliferation.
The latest flare-up in long fraught ties follows a series of South Korean court decisions ordering the seizure of Japanese corporate assets as compensation for Koreans conscripted to work in factories and mines during the 1910-1945 colonial era. The issue escalated from a regional diplomatic spat to a global trade worry last week after Japan moved to curb the export of specialty materials vital to South Korea’s technology sector.
South Korean officials who attended the meeting in Tokyo said on Saturday that they had expressed regret over Japan’s export curbs and asked for a withdrawal of the measures, Yonhap News Agency reported.