Japan has demanded that South Korea respond within 30 days to its request for talks over wartime forced labor of Koreans at Japanese firms’ factories.
Tokyo’s request came Wednesday, after a South Korean court approved a petition to seize Korean assets of Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal at the request of people who carried out forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
The demand for South Korea’s response was made when Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba summoned South Korean ambassador to Tokyo, Lee Su-hoon, to protest and express regret over the court ruling.
Japan’s call for intergovernmental talks is based on an article of the 1965 Korea-Japan Normalization Treaty, which stipulates that disputes related to the treaty be resolved through diplomatic channels. The treaty does not specify any deadline for such diplomatic talks. Japan maintains that all reparations related to Japan’s colonial rule over Korea were settled through the treaty.
The South Korean government has yet to make an official comment on the deadline, but a source said it would not be restricted by the date set by Japan.
The Japanese steelmaker has some 11 billion won ($9.8 million) in shares of PNR, a joint venture of a Japanese firm and South Korea’s top steelmaker Posco.
The court ordered 400 million won worth of these shares be frozen, after the Japanese company has refused to follow an order by Korea’s top order in October to pay each of the four victims 100 million won in compensation.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)