TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan cannot give South Korean exports preferential treatment because the country is not abiding by an agreement regarding wartime issues that Japan insists have been resolved.
Abe was objecting Wednesday to criticism over escalating tensions between the two neighbors amid disputes over Koreans forced to work as laborers during World War II.
He was defending a decision announced Monday to impose restrictions on Japan's exports of semiconductor-related materials to South Korea. As of Thursday, exports of some materials used in manufacturing computer parts, including fluorinated polyimides used for displays, must apply for approval for each contract.
Abe and other officials have offered conflicting explanations for the move, citing both a lack of trust and unspecified security concerns.