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(LEAD) Japan to call in S. Korean ambassador over private firm asset seizure

All News 16:29 January 09, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with asset scale, S. Korean official's comments; CHANGES dateline; ADDS photo)

TOKYO/SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- The Japanese government will soon summon Seoul's top envoy in Tokyo to protest a court decision to seize assets of a Japanese company in South Korea, a diplomatic source said Wednesday.

Last year, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to pay compensation to four South Koreans for their forced labor and unpaid work during World War II. Korea was under Japan's colonization at that time.

As the firm has refused to comply with the ruling, the plaintiffs requested asset seizure. A court in Pohang, southeast of Seoul, said Tuesday it has approved the petition.

The assets in question are 81,075 shares, worth around 400 million won (US$356,000), in a joint venture set up by Nippon Steel and South Korean steelmaker POSCO.

South Korean Ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon in a file photo (Yonhap)

Japan's foreign ministry plans to call in Ambassador Lee Su-hoon later Wednesday to deliver a formal protest message, the source said.

Japan is also reportedly seeking government-level consultations with South Korea on the matter.

Japanese officials have argued that all reparation-related issues tied with the 1910-45 colonial rule were settled in a 1965 state-to-state deal on bilateral normalizing diplomatic relations.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs will respond to Japan's offer, if made, after a "prudent review," based on inter-agency discussions, a ministry official said.

"Nothing has been decided yet," the official said.

The government earlier stated it respects the judiciary's independent ruling on the compensation issue.


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