Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha on Wednesday that Seoul‘s move to reopen a World Trade Organization complaint about Japan’s tightening of export controls is “extremely regrettable.”
According to Japan‘s foreign ministry, Motegi also told his South Korean counterpart during the 40-minute telephone talks that the move was also “not helpful” in resolving disputes between both sides, as both countries remain at odds over numerous issues that have severely marred bilateral ties between both countries of late.
According to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Kang voiced “deep regret that Japan had not held up its end of the deal by easing its export controls despite South Korea having addressed all of Tokyo’s concerns.”
The South Korean government on Tuesday announced that it would move ahead with procedures to reopen the complaint against Japan’s tightening of export controls last July on three high-tech materials.
The move was made on the part of South Korea due to Japan having not shown willingness to deal with the conflict bilaterally, despite months of negotiations that have already been put in to try and find headway, South Korea’s Trade, Industry and Energy Ministry said Tuesday.
A month later, Japan removed South Korea from its “white list” of countries given preferential trading status.
Tokyo said at the time the reason for this was that it was concerned that Seoul’s rules on exporting sensitive goods were not stringent enough.
It stated that Japan’s measures were both political and retaliatory in nature, although Seoul suspended the complaint in November after both sides agreed to begin dialogue to try and improve the export controls situation.
Tokyo and Seoul have been at odds since South Korea‘s top court ordered a Japanese firm to pay compensation for the forced labor of South Koreans during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
The dispute, however, continued and spread to trade and security issues, with both sides tightening export restrictions and removing each other from their preferential lists of trade partners.
The spat had also spilled over into security areas, with Seoul cancelling the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), before deciding to extend the pact with Japan just hours before the deal was due to expire.
The pair on Wednesday agreed to keep diplomatic channels open with an aim to resolving the standoff through ongoing dialogue, a Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson said.
WTO leadership race: Okonjo-Iweala, 4 others advance to second round of election
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate aspiring to the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has won the first run of elections and has àlong with four others advanced to the second phase..
The other contestants, who are from Kenya, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, on Friday advanced to the next round of voting after six days of confidential consultation with members.
Amb. David Walker, Chair of the WTO General Council in a briefing on the outcome of the election told the Head of Delegation meeting that the entire organisation’s membership was committed and fully engaged in the consultation process.
“Throughout the six days of consultations it was clear to us that the entire membership is both committed to and fully engaged in this process.
“Members consider all the candidates highly qualified and respected individuals.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they, their delegations, and their governments have conducted themselves in this process.
“Their willingness to engage, especially at these challenging times, has been greatly appreciated, and the organisation is in their debt,” Walker said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that during the consultations, Walker alongside his co-facilitators in the election process, posed to each delegation one question: “What are your preferences?”
Members then submitted four preferences to the “troika” of ambassadors.
The facilitators are Amb. Dacio Castillo, Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Harald Aspelund, chair of the Trade Policy Review Body.
The consultation process taken by facilitators has been set by guidelines established by the General Council in a 2002 decision.
Based on the guidelines, the key consideration in determining which candidate is best poised to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members.
Walker said that the second phase of the consultations would begin on Sept. 24 and end on Oct. 6.
“During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Osaka withdraws from French Open with ‘hamstring’ injury
Japan’s Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the upcoming French Open with a hamstring injury.
The 22-year-old had her left hamstring taped when she battled back against Victoria Azarenka in the United States Open final in New York on Saturday to win her third Grand Slam title.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” the world number three wrote on social media in a message she also posted in Japanese.
“My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this time.
“I wish the organizers and players all the best.”
French Open will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11 after being moved from its usual late May-June slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The hamstring issue had prompted Osaka to withdraw from the final of the Western & Southern Open in the run-up to the United States Open but it did not appear to hamper her at Flushing Meadows.
Osaka made headlines in New York as much for her performances on court as for her commitment to social justice causes.
For each of her United States Open matches she wore a different mask that carried the name of a Black American, aiming to highlight racial injustice in the United States to a wider audience.
The withdrawal of Osaka, who has never advanced past the third round at Roland Garros, comes as another blow to the tournament after world number one Ash Barty of Australia said she would not be defending her title due to COVID-19 concerns.
On the men’s side, Roger Federer will not compete as he continues to recover from knee surgery.
Osaka’s absence would improve Serena Williams’s chances of winning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title if the American chooses to play.
The 38-year-old has pulled out of the Italian Open with an Achilles issue.
It had previously said the clay court major would permit a maximum of 11,500 fans per day.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Iran’s Rouhani expects to further develop relations with Japan under new PM
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday congratulated Yoshihide Suga on becoming Japan’s new prime minister and expressed hope for the further development of bilateral relations.
On Wednesday, Suga, the leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was officially confirmed as the new prime minister, replacing Shinzo Abe.
“I hope that under your leadership, friendly relations between Iran and Japan and mutual cooperation in various fields, especially trade and economic, will continue to develop,” Rouhani said in a message to Suga.
According to the Iranian leader, permanent contacts between the two countries, including mutual visits by their prime ministers in 2019, opened a new chapter in the development of bilateral relations.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Bank of Japan maintains ultra easing policy to prop up economy
Japan’s central bank decided on Thursday to keep its ultra-loose monetary policy to prop up the recession-hit economy, rocked by the coronavirus pandemic and a consumption tax hike last year.
“Japan’s economy has started to pick up with economic activity resuming gradually, although it has remained in a severe situation due to the impact of the novel coronavirus at home and abroad,” the Bank of Japan said in a statement issued after a two-day monetary policy meeting.
The bank will continue to purchase government bonds without setting an upper limit and exchange-traded funds at an annual pace of about 12 trillion yen (114 billion dollars).
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who took office on Wednesday, vowed to continue his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s economic policy called “Abenomics,” which is based on the “three arrows” of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, and structural reforms.
However, Abe’s government had failed to produce solid economic growth due to sluggish consumer spending and stagnant wages since he was inaugurated in December 2012.
The bank launched a monetary easing campaign in 2013 to reach a 2-per-cent inflation target within about two years.
The inflation rate, however, has never even come close to the goal.
On Wednesday, the United States Federal Reserve maintained its benchmark interest rate range at near-zero, and indicated it will do so until 2023, with the aim of keeping borrowing costs ultra-low until the labour market recovers and inflation picks up.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim