Japan relieves export of microchip material to S. Korea

Japan relieves export of microchip material to S. Korea

Representative image. (Reuters Photo)

Japan has lifted curbs on the export of a key microchip material to South Korea, news reports said on Saturday- days before the leaders of both countries will meet in their first formal talks after 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 had tightened the export controls on three materials essential in manufacturing key products for South Korean tech companies like Samsung, in July, after a series of South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese firms to compensate wartime forced labour victims.

The move infuriated Tokyo, which insists the matter was settled in a 1965 treaty normalising diplomatic relations between the two countries and included significant reparations.

Tokyo's export controls led to Seoul threatening to withdraw from a key military intelligence-sharing pact, alarming the United States who said that would benefit North Korea and China.

South Korea later reversed its course and agreed to extend the pact "conditionally".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is due to meet South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, at a trilateral summit in China next week.