September 11, 2019 / 12:32 PM / 3 months ago

Japan new trade chief rejects Seoul's claim to WTO over export curbs

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Isshu Sugawara attends a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s new trade minister, Isshu Sugawara, dismissed on Wednesday South Korea’s plan to complain to the World Trade Organization over Japan’s curbs on exports to its neighbour.

“We are aware that South Korea is filing a complaint to the WTO today,” Sugawara told an inaugural news conference after a cabinet reshuffle. “We don’t think it is right at all to claim (Japan’s export curbs) are in violation of the WTO rules.”

South Korea was set to file a complaint over Japan’s tighter export controls at the WTO on Wednesday, accusing Tokyo of a “politically motivated” claim and “discriminatory” in an escalating row rooted in wartime history.

In July, Japan imposed tighter controls on exports of three materials to South Korea used in smartphone chips and displays following a diplomatic dispute over compensation for forced labourers during Japan’s occupation of Korea during World War Two.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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