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Japan drags business into politics with South Korea sanctions

The Tokyo-Seoul relationship stands to deteriorate further

| Japan
If forced, South Korea is likely to choose China.   © Reuters

Japan is not known for playing diplomatic hardball, hence the widespread surprise at its recent, brusquely-expressed imposition of economic sanctions on South Korea in retaliation to a recent South Korean court decision over wartime compensation claims.

Traditionally, the Japanese approach to political frictions has been to separate them from the logic of commerce. By slapping export restrictions on certain high-tech items critical to Korean manufacturing, the Japanese government is signaling that this twin-track approach can no longer be taken for granted.

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