(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4, 8-9)
By Kang Yoon-seung
SEJONG, July 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's trade ministry said Thursday it will hold working-level talks with its Japanese counterpart this week to discuss Tokyo's latest trade restrictions on key industrial materials.
The talks in Tokyo on Friday will be the first of their kind since Japan implemented strict regulations last week on exporting the materials used for the production of chips and smartphones.
Since last Thursday, the Japanese government has applied more complicated procedures for exporting fluorine polyimide, resist and etching gas to South Korea, a move that could adversely affect major local chip and display makers.
"We plan to ask Japan to provide an explanation (for its export restrictions) during (Friday's) meeting," said Park Tae-sung, who heads the ministry's international trade and investment division.
South Korea, whose main export products include memory chips, is heavily dependent on Japan for such materials.
Japan claimed that its tough regulations of shipments are due in part to Seoul's non-compliance with U.N.-led sanctions on North Korea.
The South Korean government, however, rebutted the claims, saying that it has found no evidence of such violations and urging Tokyo to stop making groundless allegations.
Responding to a report by a Japanese media outlet that South Korea had detected 156 cases of unauthorized exports of strategic materials since 2015, Park claimed that fact indicates that South Korea's export control system is working properly.
"South Korea is recognized as a model country for its effective control of exports," Park said. "We strongly urge Japan to stop making attempts to disparage our export control system," he added.
Seoul claims the restriction is politically driven economic retaliation that came after the South Korean Supreme Court ordered Japanese firms last year to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan has lashed out at the ruling, insisting that all reparation issues stemming from its colonial rule were settled under a 1965 government-to-government accord that normalized bilateral relations.
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