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(LEAD) Pro-N.K. paper slams Japan for export curbs on Seoul

All Headlines 19:28 July 20, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout)

SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- A pro-North Korea newspaper slammed Japan on Saturday for hampering efforts to create a reconciliatory mood on the Korean Peninsula with its retaliatory steps against South Korea suggesting Seoul's possible violations of sanctions on Pyongyang.

Early this month, Japan tightened regulations on exports to South Korea of three critical industrial materials in apparent retaliation over last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo accused South Korea of violating U.N. sanctions on the North, but provided no evidence for the claim. Seoul flatly rejected the allegations and asked that Tokyo agree to have an international panel of experts look into the matter.

"The economic retaliation sets its sights on the South but North Korea will not deal with it as a fire breaking out across the river," Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea paper based in Japan said in an article.

"(Japan) is trying to justify its economic reprisal against the South by taking issue with the North," it said. "North Korea is closely watching the provocative action by the Abe regime wearing a mask of trade policy."

The paper said that Japan's recent action appears to have stemmed from its displeasure with any progress in inter-Korean relations and the cross-border reconciliatory mood.

North Korean media have recently beefed up criticism of Japan after its move to impose export restrictions on South Korea, calling it "politically-motivated" and urging Japan to atone for its colonial-era crimes before asking for talks with Pyongyang.

On Friday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to create a favorable political climate ahead of Sunday's elections for the upper house of Japan's parliament.

"What cannot be concealed is the Abe group's sinister intention to create a political climate favorable to the forthcoming election ... diverting elsewhere the domestic criticism focused on it," the KCNA said. "Japan is legally and morally obliged to atone for its crime-woven past before the Korean nation and humanity."

"Japan has to make a proper apology and reparation for all the damage and suffering it inflicted on the Korean nation and it should clearly understand that without the apology and reparation, it will never get a ticket for Pyongyang," it added.

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