The international community is criticizing the Japanese government for its export restrictions targeting South Korea. Industry groups and think tanks in the United States and major global media outlets, which were cautious about mentioning the issue for its relation to history, are urging the Japanese government to withdraw the restrictions adversely affecting the global economy.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank, recently released a column titled Japan, Back Off on Korea: Samsung and Hynix are Not Huawei. AEI scholar Claude Barfield, a former consultant to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, pointed out in the column that Japan has chosen a dangerous and destructive mode of retaliation, one that is likely to greatly disrupt global electronic supply chains and bolster China’s push for 5G wireless dominance.
“There has been talk of appointing a special mediator or taking the issue to the World Trade Organization,” he wrote, adding, “Whatever the decision on the negotiating forum, it is imperative that Abe be persuaded (pressured) to suspend the export prohibition of vital high-tech materials to South Korean companies. Crippling alliance partners in the crucial competition with Beijing is unacceptable.”
Earlier, six groups in the electronics industry, including the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), sent a letter to the South Korean and Japanese governments, saying that the latter’s export restrictions are a non-transparent and unilateral change in policy. IHS Markit senior economist Rajiv Biswas said in his recent report that the restrictions are adding to the difficulties of Asian exporters already suffering from the U.S.-China trade war and a global IT market slump, will cause a contagion effect, and will affect both the United States and China, which rely on components from South Korea.
The Foreign Policy magazine said that the bilateral economic relations of South Korea and Japan will be damaged by Japan’s action, which is highly likely to have an adverse impact on the global smartphone industry and so on. Bloomberg defined Japan’s export curbs as a political retaliation and called for an immediate withdrawal.
“The South Korean and Japanese economies are closely intertwined with each other and, as such, Japan’s action will lead to mutually assured destruction,” said the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the U.K. Economist Group, continuing, “South Korea is an important export destination for Japanese semiconductor material suppliers and the suppliers will have a hard time finding a new customer.”