SEOUL (Kyodo) -- South Korean President Moon Jae In on Monday demanded that Japan withdraw toughened rules on exports of semiconductor-related materials to South Korea, in his first public comment on the Japanese move.
"I demand Japan's withdrawal of such a measure and a sincere discussion between the two countries," Moon said at a meeting with government officials.
The president also hinted at retaliation, saying if the Japanese move causes "actual damage" to South Korean companies, the government "will have no choice but to take necessary measures."
"But I really do not want that to happen," Moon added.
Japan announced on July 1 that suppliers will be required to seek approval before exporting to South Korea three materials needed to produce semiconductors and display panels. The export curbs took effect Thursday.
Tokyo has cited "significant damage to the relationship of mutual trust" between the countries when announcing the move, as it views Seoul as having failed to address a months-long bilateral dispute over compensation for wartime labor.
Moon also said Monday that the government will work with affected companies to prepare short-term measures so that any negative impact from the tightening of the export rules could be minimized.
Amid growing concern among South Korean companies in the wake of Japan's export curbs, the government said last week it is considering filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization as well as other "corresponding measures."
Some civic and industry groups have called for a boycott of Japanese products, with a group representing small and midsize businesses saying its members have stopped selling Japanese products.
Ties between Seoul and Tokyo have worsened since South Korea's top court last year ordered Japanese companies to compensate groups of South Koreans for wartime forced labor.
The companies have refused to comply, with the Japanese government taking the position that the issue of compensation was "completely and finally" settled under a 1965 bilateral agreement.