Japan's move to lower South Korea trade status takes effect

In this Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, photo, Japan's Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko speaks during a press conference in Tokyo. Japan removed South Korea from a list of nations given preferential trade status, a decision when announced earlier has set off a series of actions from both sides that have hurt bilateral relations. (Takuya Hatayama/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Japan's downgrading of South Korea's trade status has taken effect, a decision that already set off reaction and hurt bilateral relations.

As of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Japanese manufacturers must apply for approval for each technology-related contract for South Korean export, such as fluorinated polyimides used for displays. South Korea's previous status as a preferential trade partner meant simpler checks on exports.

Since Japan announced the decision, South Korea decided to similarly downgrade Tokyo's trade status, which will take effect next month. Seoul has also canceled a deal to share military intelligence with Japan.

South Korea has accused Japan of weaponizing trade because of a separate dispute linked to Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Japan denies retaliating and says wartime compensation issues were already settled.

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