"Despite our repeated warnings, the United States and South Korean authorities have finally started the joint military exercise targeting the DPRK", the foreign ministry spokesman for the nuclear-armed North said, according to the state news agency, KCNA. He has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to retaliate over political disputes surrounding the countries' bitter wartime history. Japanese officials have also claimed that South Korea could not be trusted to faithfully implement sanctions against North Korea and suggested that the South may have allowed sensitive materials to reach the North. The North has been demanding that Seoul turn away from Washington and restart inter-Korean economic projects held back by USA -led sanctions against the North.
Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean defector and researcher in Seoul, told AFP: 'Drills might not have taken place today if there had been some concrete progress with the nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, considering UFG was suspended past year'. -South Korea military drills that it sees as an invasion rehearsal.
Trump has played down the recent projectile launches, saying they did not break any agreement he had with Kim, but the talks are yet to resume, and analysts believe the missiles are designed both to improve North Korean military capabilities and to pressure Washington to offer more concessions. "The global community is raising criticism that Japan is damaging free trade order", Moon said.
There are 28,500 USA troops stationed in South Korea to protect it against its neighbour, many of them based south of Seoul at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek - Washington's biggest overseas military facility. Nuclear negotiations have been on a standstill since the collapse of the second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in February over disagreements in exchanging sanctions relief and disarmament.
South Korea on Monday announced plans to invest about 7.8 trillion won ($6.48 billion) in research and development for local materials, parts and equipment over the next seven years in an effort to cut the reliance on Japanese imports. The government will also financially support South Korean companies in mergers and acquisitions of foreign companies and expand tax benefits to lure more global investment, while easing labor and environmental regulations so that local companies can boost production, the country's trade ministry said.
In July, Japan tightened controls on the export of materials used to make chips, South Korea's top export item, which threatened to disrupt global semiconductor supplies used by tech giants such as Apple and Huawei.
South Korean officials have vowed retaliation, including taking Japan off its own "whitelist" of nations receiving preferential treatment in trade.