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President Moon warns of retaliation, urges Japan to negotiate

President Moon Jae-in on Friday warned that Seoul will “resolutely take corresponding measures” against Japan’s move to remove South Korea from its list of trusted trade partners.

Earlier in the day, the Japanese government decided to remove Korea from the whitelist of countries that receive preferential treatment in importing materials and goods from Japan. 

President Moon Jae-in speaks at the Cabinet meeting on Friday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in speaks at the Cabinet meeting on Friday. Yonhap

“(I) express deep regret at the reckless decision that makes the situation worse, while refusing diplomatic efforts to resolve the problem,” Moon said at a Cabinet meeting.

He went on to say that Tokyo has rejected Seoul’s proposal to discuss related issues, and Washington’s efforts to mediate between the two countries. Staying short of becoming directly involved in the trade spat, the US had suggested that the two sides seek a diplomatic solution.

“We are forced to warn that the responsibility for events that will unfold is entirely upto the Japanese government.”

Saying that Tokyo’s measures are “clear trade retribution” against the Supreme Court’s ruling on forced labor cases, Moon said that Japan is working against the principles of democracy and free trade.

“What we take more gravely is the fact that the Japan’s measures intend to attack our economy and hamper our economy’s future growth,” Moon said.

“It is very disappointing and regrettable that Japan, which we consider as our closest neighbor and ally has taken such steps.”

Moon went on to urge the government, businesses and public to work together to overcome the difficulties.

He said that the government will spare no efforts to secure alternative sources for hi-tech materials imported from Japan and for developing related technologies locally.

“The government will resolutely take corresponding measures against Japan’s unjust economic retribution,” Moon said, adding that Seoul has plans to respond should (Japan) attempt to damage the country’s economy.

“As we have warned earlier, if (Japan) intentionally hits our economy, Japan must be prepared for greater damages,” he said, adding that Seoul does not want such a “vicious circle of responses” urging Japan to engage in dialogue.

By Choi He-suk (