|President Moon Jae-in speaks about Japan's export restriction to South Korea at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. He issued a strong warning message to Japan on Monday for its continued economic pressure on South Korea, while reaffirming a priority on a diplomatic resolution to the latest stand-off between the neighbors. Yonhap|
President Moon Jae-in issued a strong warning message to Japan on Monday for its continued economic pressure on South Korea, while reaffirming a priority on a diplomatic resolution to the latest stand-off between the neighbors.
He pointed out that Tokyo's tougher export restrictions, which target firms here, are tantamount to seeking to block the growth of South Korea's economy at a time when it's seeking to leap forward "by a notch."
"If it's what Japan intends to be, it will never succeed," Moon said during a weekly meeting with his senior Cheong Wa Dae aides.
The president bristled at Japan's accusation that some dual-use materials may be smuggled out of South Korea, calling the claim a "grave challenge" to the South Korean government that's making all-out efforts for improved inter-Korean ties and peace on the peninsula "within the framework" of U.N. sanctions.
He emphasized that Seoul is abiding faithfully by major international export control rules and U.N. Security Council resolutions.
He stressed South Korean people will again overcome the current trouble from Japan's measure, as they did with a number of previous difficulties with their "united power."
Rather, South Korean firms will lose confidence in partnerships with Japan and opt to diversify the supply route of necessary materials or localize related production, Moon added.
"I warn in advance that the Japanese economy will suffer bigger damage in the end," he said.
His message represents the government's resolve not to succumb to Japan's trade-using pressure.
It was also apparently meant to drum up public support at home for a fight against Japan's retaliatory step over a historical matter.
Japan launched the export curbs on July 4 in apparent protest against the Moon administration's support for a series of South Korean court decisions ordering the seizure of Japanese corporate assets as compensation for Koreans forced to work in factories and mines during World War II. Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule from 1910-1945.
Three types of specialty materials vital to South Korea's technology sector have been affected.
Moon said it's "very unwise" for Japan to "unprecedentedly" connect such a historical issue with the economy. He described the move as running counter to the development of relations between the two countries.
"I hope the Japanese government will retract unilateral pressure and return to the stage of a diplomatic resolution," Moon said.
He indicated that his administration is open to consultations on an alternative to its recent offer of creating a joint fund by South Korean and Japanese businesses to compensate the victims of forced labor.
"Our government has not claimed that the method we proposed is the only solution," he said.
He added that Seoul-Tokyo issues are related to shared history that, like a "gimlet in a pocket," hurt both sides at times.
Japan's export restrictions are breaking the frame of economic cooperation between the neighbors, revolving around mutual dependence and co-prosperity, which has lasted for half a century, Moon said.
"That's the very reason why we are taking the Japanese government's export limit measure seriously," he said, adding that the restrictions are different in nature from routine protectionist campaigns aimed at guarding domestic industries.
Moon requested bipartisan support at home for his liberal administration in efforts to weather what he earlier called an unprecedented emergency situation. (Yonhap)