Japan's top government spokesperson has described the South Korean President's criticism of Japan's tightening of restrictions on some high-tech exports to the country as unfounded.
Moon Jae-in commented on Monday that it is unprecedented and unwise for Japan to connect a dispute over history with economic matters. He warned that the action runs counter to the development of bilateral ties.
Moon was apparently referring to the issue of compensation demands by South Koreans who claim they were forced to work for Japanese companies during World War Two.
The president criticized what he called a unilateral move by Japan without diplomatic efforts or consultations.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Tuesday that Japan is reviewing its export controls from the viewpoint of national security, and that the tightening is not a reaction to the wartime labor issue.
Thursday is the deadline for procedures for an arbitration panel that Japan has been asking South Korea to set up to discuss the issue of wartime labor.
Suga said the Japanese government will continue to urge the South Korean government to take the necessary steps immediately and agree to arbitration that's mandated by an agreement reached in 1965, when the two countries normalized diplomatic ties.