Photo/IllutrationJapanese officials, left, meet their South Korean counterparts at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo on July 12 to discuss Japan's export control measure on semiconductor materials. (Pool)

The first working-level talks were held July 12 between Japan and South Korea on last week's implementation of tighter export controls by Tokyo on materials used in manufacturing semiconductors and displays.

Japanese officials stressed the talks in Tokyo were meant as a forum for procedural explanations by the two sides and not intended as negotiations about what next step to take.

However, the two sides did spend much longer than initially planned as the explanations stretched out over close to six hours.

The initial plan envisaged a meeting of about two hours. The two sides were represented by officials at section chief level in charge of trade matters.

The South Korean side called the tighter control from midnight July 3 on three materials used in semiconductor and display manufacturing and for which Japanese companies hold a major global share an "inappropriate" move because no notification had been made beforehand about the measure.

In response, Japanese officials explained the reason for the stricter export measures. While the government has said the move was not a direct retaliatory measure to anything done by South Korea, it was implemented after Seoul failed to meet the end of June deadline set by Tokyo to present a proposal for resolving the dispute involving South Korean judicial rulings ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to wartime Korean workers.

Japanese officials also explained that inappropriate cases had occurred in South Korea's export control that warranted tighter control because of national security concerns.

According to Japanese officials, the South Korean side did not ask that the measure be rescinded nor did they reiterate the viewpoint of other government officials that the move was a violation of World Trade Organization rules. Rather, they spent most of the time seeking answers to questions about details of Japan's export control system.

An official with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, where the meeting was held, said a sufficient explanation was made and no additional meetings were planned.

However, South Korean officials who briefed reporters said a proposal had been raised by Seoul to hold talks by July 24 in order to achieve a breakthrough.

At the meeting in Tokyo, South Korean officials also expressed deep concerns about the negative effect the tighter export control would have on the global supply network for parts and materials. South Korea is a major producer of semiconductors used in a wide range of products, and concerns have been raised that the tighter export control could lead to a decrease in semiconductors manufactured in South Korea.

(This article was written by Satoshi Kubo in Tokyo and Takeshi Kamiya in Seoul.)