S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies (SJJS) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.7 no.1(2021)
A Study on South Korea’s “Decoupling from Japan” Response to Japan’s Reinforcement of Export Regulations
- Kim, Yang-Hee
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.7 No.1, pp. 91-118
- South Korea-Japan relations; export regulations; weaponized interdepen dence; decoupling from Japan; decoupling from Japanese firms
- The purpose of this research is to provide a preliminary methodology to predict the sustainability of South Korea’s “decoupling from Japan” in response to Japan’s strengthening of export regulations. To this end, the reinforcement of Japan’s export regulations is here identified as “weaponized interdependence,” and South Korea’s response as “decoupling from Japan.” Currently it is difficult to conclude that Japan has weaponized interdependence because the ruling of the Supreme Court of Korea has not yet been implemented. Even after the implementation of the Court’s decision, it might be difficult for Japan to weaponize at least the three most important regulated items, Photoresist (PR), Hydrogen Fluoride (HF), and Fluorinated Polyimides (FP), because of the highly interdependent relation of the two countries on the global supply chain (GSC). Japan’s hub position in the production of the semiconductor GSC does not seem predominant enough to achieve the “panopticon effect,” or the “chokepoint effect.” Regardless of the types of decoupling employed by South Korea, either “decoupling from Japan (DJ)” or “decoupling from Japanese firms (DJF),” the major production arena is still within South Korea due to the strong competitiveness and purchasing power of the South Korean semiconductor industry. The essence of South Korea’s “decoupling from Japan” policy is to increase the robustness and resilience of the supply chain, including not only South Korea and third countries, but also Japan. On the other hand, it is noteworthy whether the DJF type will become a touchstone for South Korea, which faces Japan’s “weaponized interdependence,” to show its capability to escape from the Japanese-hub network or build its own. In this regard, the phenomenon of South Korea’s decoupling from Japan spreading to other non-regulated items requires careful observation.