South Korea and Japan Are Embroiled in a Trade War. Can the U.S. Step In?

South Korean small and medium-sized business owners stage a rally calling for a boycott of Japanese products in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, July 15, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).
South Korean small and medium-sized business owners stage a rally calling for a boycott of Japanese products in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, July 15, 2019 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon).

As China’s trade war with the United States casts a pall over the global economy, a separate dispute between two of China’s neighbors—and two American allies—is adding to the gloomy outlook. Earlier this month, Japan curbed exports to South Korea of three materials that are necessary for the production of semiconductors and display screens, threatening to upend South Korea’s technology industry and throw a wrench into complex global supply chains for smartphones, televisions and other popular consumer devices. The move is only the latest escalation in an ongoing standoff, rooted in deep historical grievances, that has regional observers and officials […]

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