#Hot Issues of the Week l 2019-08-11
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced on Wednesday that Japanese exports to South Korea will not qualify for fast-track export clearance as of August 28.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet approved the measure in a meeting last Friday, greatly expanding the scope of Korea-bound export restrictions Tokyo first introduced last month.
The moves are widely believed to be retaliation against South Korean top court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.
South Korea is the only country in Asia on Japan's 27-member "whitelist" of nations that enjoy streamlined export procedures, and will be the first country to be removed from it.
Inclusion on the whitelist means certain goods that could have military applications can be freely exported from Japan with a single permit obtained every three years.
Group B, which South Korea will soon likely belong to, consists of nations that adhere to certain multilateral export control regimes that Tokyo approves of.
Group C is made up of nations that do not meet the requirements for the two aforementioned groups, while Group D countries, including North Korea and Iraq, are considered by Tokyo to have the lowest level of credibility as a trading partner.
Once South Korea is demoted
Although Tokyo says the classification overhaul was meant to enhance transparency and understanding of its export management system, there's speculation it may be an attempt to conceal the political objectives behind removing South Korea from the preferential trade list.