Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(LEAD) Japan calls forced labor ruling 'unacceptable'

Diplomacy 11:57 November 29, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with S. Korean government's view, other details; CHANGES slug, headline, dateline; ADDS photo)

SEOUL/TOKYO, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Thursday that South Korea's additional court rulings against a Japanese firm for wartime forced labor are "very regrettable and unacceptable."

Seoul officials, however, said they "respect" the Supreme Court verdicts.

In a statement, Kono said they run counter to the 1965 pact between the governments of the neighboring countries on normalizing bilateral diplomatic ties. He said all reparation issues related to Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea were settled through the accord.

Earlier in the day, a South Korean court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd to compensate 10 Koreans who worked at its factories in 1944 with no pay and a bereaved family member of another on two separate suits.

Kono said the rulings would incur "unjust disadvantages" to the Japanese company and uproot the legal foundation of friendly, cooperative relations between the two nations. He described them as a violation of international law and urged Seoul to take appropriate measures to address the problem.

Otherwise, he warned, Japan will consider "every option," including an international lawsuit.

An image depicting South Korean court rulings on Japan's wartime forced labor (Yonhap)

The court decision was widely expected, echoing its verdict against Japan's Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. a month earlier for its similar wartime atrocity against Koreans.

It made clear that victims have their own rights to compensation despite the state-to-state agreement and the statute of limitations has not expired in relevant cases.

Thursday's rulings usher in the worsening of already frosty bilateral relations, despite Seoul's policy of separating regional security cooperation with Tokyo and historical issues.

"(We) respect the judiciary's decision and will try to get the wounds of forced labor victims healed," a South Korean foreign ministry official said.

He said the government plans to craft ways to handle the issue in comprehensive consideration of various factors.

He added South Korea still hopes for the "future-oriented development" of relations with Japan.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!