Celina Yoon has more.
Specifically, it plans to remove South Korea from a "white" list of countries with minimum trade restrictions, requiring Japanese exporters to go through a lengthy permit application process each time they want to export restricted items to South Korea, it said.
South Korea has called on Japan to withdraw the measure, but Japan has repeatedly indicated that it is not up for discussion on the grounds the decision was part of its review of export controls in light of national security risks.
Japan says its tightened controls on the export of high-tech materials to South Korea are in line with World Trade Organization rules.
Analysts say the Japanese measure won't have any immediate meaningful impact on South Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which have sufficient supplies of the materials for now, given the slowdown in demand for semiconductors. It remains a major player in specialized chip components, even though it was overtaken as a chipmaker years ago by South Korea. Although 59.9 percent said the trade row would have a negative impact on the industry, majority of 46.8 percent said they don't have any countermeasures to address the situation.
After the WTO meeting, Ihara told reporters that he had explained that Japan had merely changed its procedures, having previously applied simplified rules to South Korea.
The Japanese government had said last week it would tighten export regulations because Seoul supports compensation for Korean forced laborers recruited during World War II.
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Three key materials have been targeted: fluorinated polyimides, used in smartphone displays; photoresists, used to transfer circuit patterns; and hydrogen fluoride, used to etch chips.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Tuesday, July 9, 2019.
South Korea denied the allegations, summoning a Japanese Embassy official to protest Abe's suggestion that it could not be trusted to faithfully implement sanctions against North Korea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul said Tuesday.
The trade minister, in the meantime, is scheduled to visit the United States and meet with trade officials next week.
Paik Ji-ah, ambassador of the South Korean Mission in Geneva, will also participate in the WTO council meeting along with Jung Kyung-rok, director in charge of WTO affairs at the trade ministry.
The export restrictions stem from a historic dispute over the Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, in which many Koreans were used as forced labour by Japanese companies.
Also caught in the fray are Japanese chemical suppliers such as JSR Corp. and Stella Chemifa Corp., which are exploring ways to supply South Korean clients from plants outside Japan.