Seoul, March 11 (Jiji Press) — A South Korean Foreign Ministry official Monday called on Japan to respond carefully to expected actions by South Korean plaintiffs who won wartime labor lawsuits against Japanese companies.
The South Korean government is studying the wartime labor issue with various possibilities in mind, the official said, adding that Seoul is asking Japan through diplomatic channels to respond carefully.
The official, however, did not say how Seoul would react.
The Japanese government is considering taking countermeasures, such as a possible tariff hike, if South Korean plaintiffs sell Japanese companies’ assets in South Korea.
Following the South Korean Supreme Court’s order to Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. <5401> to pay compensation over wartime labor, the plaintiffs seized the steelmaker’s holding of shares in Posco-Nippon Steel RHF Joint Venture Co. (PNR), a joint firm with South Korean steelmaker Posco.
The Japanese company rejected the plaintiffs’ request for talks. The plaintiffs plan to seek a local court order to sell the assets for cash.
Plaintiffs in a similar suit won a South Korean top court ruling ordering Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. <7011> to pay compensation and filed for the seizure of patent rights and trademarks the Japanese company holds in South Korea.
The Japanese government maintains that the issue of wartime compensation was settled under a 1965 bilateral agreement on property and claims concluded when the two Asian countries normalized their diplomatic relations.
Tokyo is asking Seoul to take corrective action while requesting consultation under the 1965 pact. But South Korea has made no reply.