• Kyodo

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The removal of Japan’s tightened export controls on South Korea will not be on the table in an upcoming meeting between senior trade officials from the countries, industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said Friday.

“I don’t think so,” he said when asked at a news conference if a review of the measures would be discussed in the director general-level talks, set to be held Dec. 16 in Tokyo, though the meeting would be an opportunity to “exchange views” on the issue.

“We plan to exchange views on the export controls of Japan and South Korea and their implementation,” Kajiyama said, adding that the meeting was not expected to yield a quick resolution to a dispute over Japan’s decision to impose stricter regulations on technology-related materials and downgrade South Korea’s trade status. “I’m sure South Korea will make its arguments and requests, but we will make a decision” regarding export controls, Kajiyama said.

Tokyo has cited national security concerns over South Korea’s lax controls on exporting strategic materials that can be diverted for military use, while Seoul argues the measures are political payback for court decisions on wartime forced labor and has demanded they be lifted.

Japan will be represented by Yoichi Iida, director general of the trade control department at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The neighboring countries agreed to hold the meeting to discuss the issue, the first of its kind since mid-2016, last month after South Korea suspended the termination of a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact.

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