• Jiji


The government plans to support a Nigerian nominee, not a South Korean one, for the post of director-general of the World Trade Organization, government sources said Monday.

The move comes against the backdrop of a semiconductor-related trade dispute between Japan and South Korea, in which the South Korean nominee, Yoo Myung-hee, currently the country’s minister for trade, has repeatedly criticized Japan.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | KYODO
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala | KYODO

With the next WTO chief expected to be selected by early next month, the candidate list has been narrowed down to Yoo and Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, both women.

The Foreign Ministry is encouraging other WTO members to back Okonjo-Iweala, who has served as her country’s finance minister and as World Bank managing director, according to the sources. She is a “superior candidate to Yoo,” one of them said.

With Nigeria receiving significant economic assistance from China, however, some are concerned about China’s possible influence on her.

At a news conference Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government “won’t make public” its decision regarding the WTO leadership selection process, citing “diplomatic reasons.”

Kato noted, however, that a desirable candidate should have the abilities to “balance the interests of major WTO member countries and proactively contribute to maintaining and strengthening multilateral trade frameworks.”

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