By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Friday urged Japan to immediately lift the trade curbs it imposed on Asia's No. 4 economy, stressing that Seoul has taken necessary measures to bolster its export control system in line with Tokyo's demands.
In July last year, Japan imposed restrictions on exports to Seoul of three key industrial materials critical for South Korea's chip and display industries, namely photoresist, etching gas and fluorinated polyimide.
Tokyo cited Seoul's alleged lax export control system for sensitive materials that can be diverted for military use as the reason behind its export restrictions. It also removed Seoul from its list of favored trade partners.
"South Korea has been making efforts to beef up its export-control capabilities and removed the issues raised by Japan in order to settle the trade dispute with Japan," Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said in a statement.
The remark came as the two countries are set to hold a meeting in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss their trade policies.
"Although South Korea already operates a fully functioning catch-all system, the country nevertheless plan to revise its foreign trade act to further bolster export controls," he added.
The country also increased the number of staff at the Korean Security Agency of Trade and Industry by 25 percent to better manage its export control system, according to the minister.
"We urge Japan to take corresponding action and normalize (regulations) to the level before July last year," Sung said.
In December, Tokyo partially lifted curbs on exports to South Korea of photoresist in an apparent goodwill gesture ahead of their summit, which ended without meaningful progress.
Japan's export curbs against South Korea are widely seen as being politically motivated and came in response to the country's court rulings ordering Japanese firms to provide compensation for Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
Japan's economic retaliation has not yet had a significant impact on local industry, but the trade row has nevertheless sparked uncertainty for South Korea's export-oriented economy.
Amid simmering tension between the two Asian neighbors, Japan decided Thursday to tighten entry restrictions on arrivals from South Korea, including a two-week mandatory quarantine and the suspension a visa-waiver program, to guard against the spread of the new coronavirus.
Tokyo also said visas issued to Koreans and Chinese travelers will be canceled and that all incoming flights from the two countries will only be allowed to land in Narita Airport, the main gateway to Tokyo, or Kansai Airport in Osaka.
Around 5.58 million people from South Korea visited Japan last year.
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