South Korea's trade ministry has rejected Japan's claim that removing Tokyo from a list of preferred trading partners would be arbitrary retaliation.
In a statement, the ministry said the measure, announced August 12th, is meant to classify countries whose export control systems run counter to basic international agreements.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had submitted its opinion to Korea's trade ministry Tuesday night, the deadline for a 20 day-public opinion-gathering process.
Tokyo said if Seoul goes ahead with the removal without, in its words, answering questions about its rationale and other details, then the revision would be assumed to be an arbitrary and illegitimate countermeasure against Japan.
Korea's trade ministry said it had notified Japan about the issue via other channels before the official announcement, and that it is ready to sit down for talks with Japan anytime.
Removing Japan from the list would mean stricter conditions on Korean companies exporting strategic goods to Japan and the approval process could also take around 15 days, up from the current five.
Japan, announced new export curbs on South Korea in July, and removed South Korea from its own whitelist on August 28th, citing an alleged lack of export controls on Korea's part.
Amid the ongoing tensions on the trade and military fronts, Japan's foreign minister Taro Kono said in a Bloomberg op-ed that the heart of the problem is whether the promises between Seoul and Tokyo to normalize their relations in 1965 will be kept or not.
After further regulatory and legal reviews, South Korea is expected to decide whether to remove Japan from its whitelist sometime this month.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News.