What Happened: Japan has approved a second shipment of high-tech supplies to South Korea for Samsung's chipmaking production, Reuters reported Aug. 20, citing sources. A South Korean official confirmed the report but added that uncertainty would remain until Tokyo lifts export controls against Seoul.
Why It Matters: Although Japan's approval of exports to South Korea falls within new restrictions that Tokyo enacted in July, the go-ahead comes just before a sit-down between the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers on the sidelines of a trilateral summit in China. Accordingly, Tokyo's decision could indicate Japan's willingness to de-escalate its trade dispute with South Korea if the talks prove successful and Seoul decides to extend a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact on Aug. 24.
Background: The decision marks the second time that Japan has approved a shipment of sensitive materials to South Korea since it imposed export restrictions in early July. Foreign ministers from both countries will soon meet in Beijing on a bilateral basis, as well as in a Chinese-hosted trilateral meeting.
- Seoul and Tokyo Stare Each Other Down (July 18, 2019)
- China, Japan and South Korea Agree to Talk Things Through (May 15, 2018)
- South Korea, Japan: Friction Strains But Doesn't Destroy Collaboration (July 17, 2017)