As ties between Japan and South Korea have been spiraling downward, a group of 75 citizens worried about the situation criticized the Japanese government Friday for being "hostile and counterproductive" and treating South Korea "almost like an enemy."
The online petition, which calls for a cool-headed approach to ease tension and hold dialogues, enlisted support from scholars, lawyers and other citizens including writer Satoshi Kamata, economic analyst Katsuto Uchihashi, and Akira Kawasaki, a steering committee member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Japan and South Korea have been at loggerheads over Tokyo's recent tightening of rules on exports of key materials used by South Korean chipmakers. The Asian neighbors are also in dispute over compensation for wartime labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
"This clearly hostile action can be a lethal blow to the South Korean economy," the statement said on the tighter export controls. The group called for the measure's "immediate withdrawal," noting it may be "counterproductive" as it could trigger tit-for-tat action.
The citizens also said Japan's colonial past necessitates "an extremely cautious approach" in dealing with South Korea.
"If there are differences of opinions, why not continue the discussion while holding hands?" they asked, referring to increasing cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries in recent years.