Japan could rule to remove South Korea from white list trade status as early as August 2: Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks at a news conference about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on September 15, 2017. Kyodo/via REUTERS/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is preparing for cabinet approval as early as Aug. 2 to remove South Korea from the so-called white list status with minimum trade restrictions, Kyodo news agency reported on Friday.

The plan would come after Japan tightened curbs this month on exports to South Korea of high-tech materials used for making memory chips and display panels.

Once the removal is officially announced, the change would take effect after 21 days, Kyodo said.

Asked about the plan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that nothing had been decided on the time frame.

The period for canvassing public opinion in Japan ended on Wednesday. South Korea has protested the Japanese plan, saying it would undermine their decades-old economic and security cooperation and threaten free trade.

There are currently 27 countries on Japan’s white list including Germany, Britain and the United States.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Daniel Leussink; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim