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Court orders sale of Nippon Steel assets to compensate wartime forced labor

All News 21:23 December 30, 2021

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean court on Thursday ordered the sale of a Japanese steel company's assets here to compensate wartime forced labor victims in the second ruling of its kind.

The Daegu District Court's Pohang branch ordered Nippon Steel Corp. to sell off its securities of PNR, a joint venture company with Korean steelmaker POSCO Co., to pay workers forced into labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

In a landmark 2018 ruling, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Nippon Steel to compensate Korean victims, but the firm refused to comply with the ruling on the grounds that the reparation issue was fully and finally settled by a 1965 treaty aimed at normalizing Korea-Japan ties.

As a result, the plaintiffs demanded the court seize the Japanese firm's assets in Korea, and it accepted their request in January 2019.

It follows the Daejeon district court's September ruling that ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to sell its assets here to compensate forced labor victims.

An actual liquidation could take time if Nippon Steel appeals, like Mitsubishi did.

Seoul officials remain cautious over the forced labor ruling's potential impact on the already frayed bilateral ties over shared history and trade disputes, as Tokyo lodged protest against the previous ruling on Mitsubishi.

"We hope South Korea and Japan promptly enter negotiations to come up with solutions in which all stakeholders can agree on, considering rights of victims and the bilateral relations," a senior foreign ministry said.

This undated photo provided by Kyodo News Agency shows Nippon Steel Co. in Japan. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This undated photo provided by Kyodo News Agency shows Nippon Steel Co. in Japan. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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