By Nam Hyun-woo
Korea has removed Japan from its "whitelist" of countries receiving preferential status in the trading of strategic items, the government said Wednesday.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it has revised the country's export control system for strategic items on its official gazette, meaning it has gone into effect. The revision contains details on removing Japan from the 29-country whitelist.
The ministry said it received public opinions on the revision from Aug. 14 to Sept. 3 and 91 percent supported the removal.
Korea controls exports of strategic items by dividing destination countries into two categories. Category A includes 29 countries which has joined all of the four major international export control regimes and category B is comprised of the rest. Japan was in Category A.
For countries in category A, called Korea's whitelist, the government gives preferential trade status such as minimal customs documentation and shorter periods of examinations.
With the revision, however, Korea made subcategories of A-1 and A-2, and placed Japan alone into A-2.
An A-2 country is subject to export control measures tantamount to category B countries "in principle," thus Korean exporters will not be allowed to get blanket permissions for certain strategic items' export to Japan and have to get permission for individual items.
However, exporters will be given exemptions in documentation for several cases of individual exports and exempted from examination if they are in relay trades.
The move came after Japan's removal of Korea from its whitelist Aug. 7 and its actual implementation Aug. 28. Before the removal, Tokyo has placed export restrictions on three important materials needed for making semiconductors and displays, July 4, which was in apparent retaliation to last year's Supreme Court rulings here calling for Japanese firms to compensate surviving Koreans forced to work for them during wartime.
In what appears to be a tit-for-tat measure, the government stressed that it is "not a response to Japan's whitelist removal" and was aimed at "improving Korea's strategic item export control scheme."