"We will upgrade the competitiveness of the materials, parts and equipment industries," South Korean Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, said, as quoted by the news outlet.
According to the publication, South Korea's deficit in trade with Japan amounted to $24.1 billion in 2018, including $22.4 billion spent on the purchase of industrial materials, parts and equipment.
On Friday, Tokyo decided to remove South Korea from the list of trade partners that have preferences in importing Japanese technologies and high-tech products. Last month, Japan also introduced restrictions on South Korean exports of fluorinated polyamides, photoresists and hydrogen fluoride, three key materials for producing memory chips and smartphones. The move is believed to be a response to a South Korean court ruling, making Japanese companies pay compensation to South Korean forced labor victims during the 1910-1945 Japanese rule of Korea.
The ties between South Korea and Japan have long been aggravated by the memory of Japan's colonial rule over Korea from 1910-1945. It is believed that Japanese companies forced prisoners of war as well as local residents into hard labor in the Japanese military industry during the occupation and throughout World War II. Japan considers South Korea’s damage claims for colonialism to be unfounded, since Tokyo paid $500 million to Seoul in 1965 to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries and to finally close the issue of compensation.