Japan denounces South Korean court ruling on wartime forced labor
SEOUL — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized the South Korean ruling, which ordered a Japanese steel giant to pay compensation over forced wartime labor, saying it was “impossible” under international law and that the issue had been “completely and finally settled” by the 1965 treaty.
“The Japanese government will deal firmly with this issue,” the Japanese Prime Minister told lawmakers in Tokyo.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned the South Korean ambassador to protest the ruling and warned Tokyo will bring the case to an international court “if appropriate measures are not taken immediately”.
The ruling “could have a negative impact on the Japan-South Korea relationship”, Kono said, adding he hoped Seoul would take action to avoid that.
Nippon Steel & Sumimoto Metal called the court decision “deeply regrettable”.
It will “carefully review” the ruling, it added, “taking into account the Japanese government’s responses on this matter and other factors”.
Authorities in Seoul, who need to tread a line between popular resentment of Japan’s past action and diplomatic ties with Tokyo, issued a carefully-worded statement.
The government “respected” the court ruling, the prime minister’s office said, and was “saddened by the pain the forced labor victims had to endure”.
“The government hopes to improve South Korea-Japan bilateral relations in a future-oriented manner,” it added.
According to official Seoul data, around 780,000 Koreans were conscripted into forced labour by Japan during the 35-year occupation, not including the women forced to work in wartime brothels. /kga
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