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Court begins process to sell assets of Japanese firm involved in wartime forced labor

National 10:51 June 04, 2020

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- A local court has embarked on a process to effectuate its ruling on seizing assets of a Japanese firm involved in wartime forced labor as the country's government failed to deliver it.

According to the legal representatives for four Korean plaintiffs Wednesday, the Pohang branch of Daegu District Court, in southeastern Korea, decided Monday to publicly notice the court's ruling made last year on seizing the Korean assets of Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. over Tokyo's World War II forced labor.

The assets in question are 194,794 shares, worth around 973 million won (US$799,400), in PNR, a joint venture set up by Nippon Steel and South Korean steelmaker POSCO, which recycles byproducts from steelmaking.

In 2018, 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 the war. Korea was under Japan's colonization at that time.

The firm refused to comply with the ruling and the plaintiffs requested an asset seizure, which was approved by the court in Pohang.

The delivery of public notice will go into effect Aug. 4. It is a legal procedure where a court ruling is considered to have been delivered to a defendant who fails to respond either purposely or with invalid address.

Japan's foreign ministry received the legal document on the ruling, but it failed to act further.

The legal representatives of Korean victims welcomed the court's latest decision but expressed regret it took too long.

"It is regrettable that one year and five months have passed since the ruling on the asset seizure was made," they said, asking the court to move more quickly.

"The victims waited for 13 years for the court ruling starting in 2005, when they filed the lawsuit."

This file photo shows Korean workers forcibly taken to Japan during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea (1910-45). On Oct. 30, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a 2013 ruling on damages claims filed by four victims and ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. (NSSM) to pay each victim 100 million won (US$87,720). (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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