Japan has lifted curbs on the export of a key microchip material to South Korea, news reports said Saturday, days before the leaders of both countries meet for their first formal talks in more than a year.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Friday removed photoresists – used to coat semiconductor circuit boards – from Tokyo’s export restrictions against Seoul, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and other reports said.
Japan tightened export controls on three materials essential to key products of South Korean tech companies such as Samsung in July after a series of South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced labor victims.
The move infuriated Tokyo, which insists the matter was settled in a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries, which included significant reparations.
Tokyo’s export controls led to Seoul threatening to withdraw from a key military intelligence-sharing pact, alarming the United States, which said that would benefit North Korea and China.
South Korea later reversed course and agreed to extend the pact “conditionally.”
Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe is due to meet South Korean leader Moon Jae-in at a summit in China next week.