SEOUL – The municipal government of Busan, in southern South Korea, said Sunday it will suspend administrative exchange programs with Japan pending an improvement of relations between the two countries after Japan tightened its export controls on items to South Korea.
The city said it will also restrict visits to Japan by city personnel for official duties.
In a statement, the city government criticized Japan’s tightened export controls as improper economic retaliation by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The city will work with the government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to persuade Japan to rescind the export curbs, it said.
As an example of exchange programs to be suspended, the city cited the conclusion of a friendly exchange agreement with Nagasaki Prefecture.
According to the website of the prefecture’s Seoul office, the agreement was concluded in 2014 and has been renewed every year since.
On private-sector exchange initiatives, the Busan city government said it will respect as much as possible the positions of companies and other groups concerned, but added that city personnel, excluding essential ones, will not take part in such programs.
Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don said in a statement that he hopes the improper retaliatory economic measure will be removed and intergovernmental relations will be normalized as soon as possible.