(ATTN: ADDS comments on Saudi situation in last 3 paras)
SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's financial regulator said Tuesday an array of financial support is in store for local materials, parts and equipment firms to help them reduce their reliance on Japan, in the face of Tokyo's apparent retaliatory move against compensation for wartime forced laborers.
Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Eun Sung-soo made the remarks as he visited a plant of IONES Co., an equipment manufacturer for semiconductors and display, in the city of Anseong, 80 kilometers south of Seoul.
"Competitiveness of the materials, parts and equipment industries is a very important base for our economy," Eun said.
"The FSC will provide a wide range of support for our materials, parts and equipment industries to sufficiently raise their competitiveness," Eun said, adding that the regulator plans to increase financial support to such firms throughout various policy programs.
Since July, Japan has tightened exports of key materials to South Korea in apparent retaliation over Seoul's court rulings on compensation for wartime forced labor.
South Korea has blamed Tokyo for weaponizing trade in reprisal for Seoul's handling of the matter stemming from Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
So far, the FSC has provided 539 billion won (US$453 million) in financial support for companies hit by Japan's export restrictions, FSC officials said.
South Korea, the world's fifth-largest importer of crude oil, is closely monitoring developments in the Middle East in the wake of a drone attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Eun told reporters that uncertainties surrounding oil prices could impact the local economy and financial markets.
However, the Saudi crisis "does not necessarily have a negative impact" on the Korean economy, Eun said, noting that local companies could take steps to minimize the impact on supplies.
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