Japan's deteriorating relations with South Korea may soon hit businesses in both countries. Japan's top government spokesperson has indirectly suggested that a wartime labor issue is behind plans to restrict some exports to South Korea.
Tokyo is set to apply tougher rules on shipments of substances used in high-tech products like smartphones and semiconductors.
Yoshihide Suga was asked about the matter at a news conference on Tuesday. He said, "South Korea has repeatedly rejected the long-standing friendly ties between our two countries. Separately, it failed to produce a satisfactory response to a wartime labor issue before the G20 summit -- which severely damaged trust in the relationship."
The South Korean government has condemned the measures, calling them "economic retaliation." Suga denied that's the case.
The move comes months after a South Korean court ordered Japanese companies to compensate workers who say they were forced to work for them during World War Two.
Tokyo has called on Seoul to set up an arbitration panel to settle the dispute. But Seoul has not responded to the request.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not hold bilateral talks with his South Korean counterpart during the G20 summit in Osaka last week. And the two men sat at different tables during a banquet on Friday.