Overwhelming 71% of respondents support Abe administration’s trade measures
On July 24, Japan wrapped up opinion-canvassing for removing South Korea from the white list of countries that enjoy expedited procedures for export controls. If Japan pushes through this measure, it would likely take effect in the middle of August, following a decision by the cabinet and the measure’s promulgation.
On July 24, Japan’s NHK broadcaster reported that Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) had received more than 10,000 opinions during the canvassing period, an unusually large number for export management. Quoting an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, NHK said that the majority of the opinions received from the general public approved removing South Korea from the white list. On July 1, the Ministry announced it was soliciting opinions about revising government rules to enable the removal.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry accepted opinions through a dedicated platform online and through email, without holding any hearings. On July 23, the Korea International Trade Association, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Korea Employers Federation, the Korea Federation of SMEs, and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea all sent in emails arguing that South Korea shouldn’t be removed from the white list. There were also reportedly Japanese who expressed their opposition to the measure, finding it “unacceptable because it incites conflict with a neighboring country.” But a survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun on July 24 found that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy enjoys the support of Japanese public opinion, with 71% of respondents in favor of the export controls on South Korea.
The Japanese cabinet typically meets on Tuesdays and Fridays. As a consequence, the decision about the white list exclusion could be made as early as July 26. The process of promulgating the decision and putting it into effect would take at least 21 days. A cabinet decision on July 26 would mean that, theoretically at least, South Korea could be dropped from the white list by August 16. When more than 100 opinions are received, it’s typical for the government to allow two weeks for taking those opinions into consideration, but the Japanese government holds that such a period isn’t mandatory. Since Japan bypassed ordinary steps when it instituted the export controls, it may try to speed up South Korea’s removal from the white list as well.
By Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent
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