Japan has approved the first export of liquid hydrogen fluoride, one of the key materials under restriction to South Korea, to the neighboring country since it tightened related controls in July, industry sources said Saturday.
Tokyo has recently given the green light to a Japanese firm to export liquid hydrogen fluoride to South Korea in the first such case since Tokyo imposed tighter regulations on exports to Seoul of materials that are critical for the production of semiconductors and flexible displays.
Under the new rules, Japanese companies are required to apply for an individual license to export the materials to South Korea, a process that can take up to 90 days.
Other materials crucial in chipmaking and digital screen production -- fluorinated polyimide, etching gas and photoresist -- earned approval for export in August and September.
Experts say Japan's latest approval appears to be a veiled attempt to make its case that its restrictions do not run counter to international trade norms under the World Trade Organization.
South Korea claimed Japan's measure is a discriminatory act directly targeting it and apparent retaliation against last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.