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S. Korea still reviewing Japan's request for arbitration panel over forced labor: ministry

All Headlines 19:06 June 12, 2019

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is still "prudently" reviewing Japan's request last month for the formation of an arbitration panel to discuss Tokyo's wartime forced labor, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported that Seoul has all but decided not to accede to the request to appoint an arbitrator by the June 18 deadline -- within 30 days of the date of the request as stipulated in a 1965 bilateral accord.

"The report that (Seoul) has decided not to appoint an arbitrator by the deadline is not true," a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency on condition of anonymity.

"(The ministry) is prudently reviewing it under the basic position that we honor the court rulings on the issue, and in consideration of the need to heal the pains and scars of the victims and to establish a future-oriented South Korea-Japan relationship," the official added.

Tensions have persisted as Japan has protested South Korean Supreme Court rulings last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor. Japan argues that all colonial-era reparation issues were settled under the 1965 deal that normalized bilateral ties.

The Japanese firms have not complied with the court orders, prompting the victims to take legal steps to seize or liquidate the companies' assets based in Korea.

Tokyo officially requested the formation of the arbitration panel on May 20.

The 1965 accord stipulates that the two sides are to settle any dispute related to the accord primarily through diplomatic channels. If they fail to settle it, the case can then be referred to a commission involving a third-country arbitrator agreed on by the two sides.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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