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South Korea to dump Japan from ‘whitelist’

South Korean protesters hold up signs reading "No Abe's government" during an anti-Japanese rally in central Seoul on August 13, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Frank Smith
Press TV, Seoul 

In the face of ongoing demonstrations, the South Korean government acted against Japan over Tokyo removing South Korea from its whitelist of preferred trading partners.

South Koreans have been demonstrating and boycotting Japanese goods and travel, demanding their government act. Finally, on Monday Seoul announced it would remove Japan from its own so-called whitelist.

Japan initially removed South Korea from its whitelist because of recent court cases awarding compensation to forced laborers of Japan’s colonial enterprises – say experts. Tokyo says it was because of Seoul’s lax export controls. Relations between the two states are emotionally charged – sometimes fanned by populist politicians. 

Japan on Tuesday argued that Seoul had not justified revoking its preferred trade status – which will require more documentation and oversight of exports to Japan. South Korea said there will be a 20-day consultation period before the measure takes effect.

For South Koreans this dispute with Japan is closely entwined with ideals of sovereignty and identity. This Thursday, August 15th, Korea marks National Independence Day, when the country 74 years ago cast off Japan's colonial rule. Large celebrations and demonstrations are planned. 

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