16 AUG 2019

South Korea has announced plans to strengthen its inspection regime for battery, tire and plastic waste imported from Japan, a move seen as part of its on-going trade war with Japan.

The Ministry of Environment said it will focus on radioactive and heavy metals tests on waste imported from Japan for recycling. The move follows a decision to strengthen inspection of Japanese coal ash imports.

South Korea has already announced plans to remove Japan from its trusted trading partner white list.

The conflict is the result of South Korea’s expectations for compensation for forced labor and sexual slavery by Japan before and during World War II.  A local court ruled last month that Japanese companies should provide compensation for war-time forced labor.

Earlier this month, Japan downgraded its trading relationship with South Korea by taking it off a list of nations for which exports of industrial and high-tech products are fast-tracked. The new Japanese restrictions will come into effect on August 28, and they follow moves last month by Japan to tighten controls on exports of chemicals used to make semiconductors and digital screens. Japan claimed these items, important to South Korea’s economy, posed national security concerns.

South Korea is now considering withdrawing from an intelligence-sharing deal signed in 2016 to support U.S. military bases that the two nations host. The deal has been automatically renewed each year but could be terminated by either nation before this year’s deadline of August 24.

The trade war occurs amid the backdrop of a sluggish export market for South Korea. A finance ministry report said the Korean economy is faced with growing downside risks from a slowing global economy, lower demand for chips and escalating trade tensions, reports Yonhap news service.

However, South Korea’s trade ministry said on Friday that it plans to secure new free trade agreements this year with Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. South Korea is also negotiating with Israel, a move seen to be reducing the nation’s technology dependence on Japan because Israel is strong in the telecommunications and aviation industries.


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