South Korea proposes UN probe into Japanese sanctions claims

Seoul seeks probe as it rejects claims that it violated UN sanctions by exporting sensitive materials to North Korea.

    At the root of the diplomatic row between the two US allies is compensation demanded by Seoul for South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two [Toru Hanai/Reuters]
    At the root of the diplomatic row between the two US allies is compensation demanded by Seoul for South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two [Toru Hanai/Reuters]

    South Korea has proposed an investigation by the United Nations or another international body as it continues to reject Japanese claims that Seoul violated sanctions against North Korea.

    The country said on Friday it deeply regrets accusations by some senior Japanese officials that it did not enforce proper export control.

    South Korea has fully enforced UN sanctions on North Korea and international export control regimes on sensitive materials and dual-use technology, Kim You-geun, first deputy chief at the National Security Office, told a briefing.

    He said Tokyo must present clear evidence for its assertion.

    South Korea has denied accusations in Japanese media that it had shipped materials that could be used in weapons programmes to North Korea, as a diplomatic row intensifies over wartime forced labour that threatens to disrupt the global supply of memory chips.

    At the root of the diplomatic dispute between the two US allies is compensation demanded by Seoul for South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two.

    It worsened last week when Japan said it would tighten curbs on exports of three materials crucial for advanced consumer electronics because trust with South Korea had been broken over the forced labour dispute.

    On Friday, a South Korean security, industry and trade representative arrived in Tokyo for discussions on Japan's move to tighten controls on hi-tech exports.

    Footage from Korean news outlet TBS showed Chon Chansu, a representative from South Korea's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Resources, walking through Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

    Chansu is expected to meet officials from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Friday, to receive explanations behind Japan's decision.

    Tokyo last week tightened the approval process for Japanese shipments of photoresists and other sensitive materials to South Korean companies, which need the chemicals to produce semiconductors and display screens used in TVs and smartphones.

    South Korea is also seeking help from the United States. The government said on Thursday that Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone and conveyed Seoul's view that Japan's "undesirable" trade curbs could disrupt global supply chains and hurt trilateral cooperation among the countries.

    SOURCE: News agencies