Not for the first time Japan is contemplating turning towards the World Trade Organization (WTO) to resolve a longstanding bitter dispute with South Korea over shipbuilding subsidies.
Tokyo is understood to be specifically irritated by the billions the Korean government poured into to save ailing Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), which was on the brink of bankruptcy three years ago. The Japanese also believe their Korean counterparts have secured new orders by taking on loss making contracts to ensure their docks are busy.
Japan, which was usurped by South Korea as the world’s largest shipbuilder at the start of the century, has had repeated rows with neighbours South Korea and China on subsidies and pricing. Japan’s position has often been supported by Germany. In January this year Japan sent a document asking South Korea to correct its shipbuilding practices relating to pricing and state subsidies.