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ROK ignores Japan’s call for establishing arbitration panel on forced labor

All national papers reported that the Moon administration has not responded to Japan’s request for naming by June 18 its member to a three-person arbitration committee that Tokyo has proposed launching based on the 1965 bilateral accord on wartime compensation for resolving the requisitioned workers dispute. According to Asahi, Seoul has effectively ignored what it described as Tokyo’s “unilateral” call based on the judgment that the establishment of the committee would roil bilateral relations by provoking strong emotional reactions in both nations. Although the GOJ is reportedly prepared to continue to urge the ROK government to appoint a member, the dailies noted that calls may mount within the ruling LDP for responding by taking such measures as raising tariffs on ROK imports and restricting visa-free travel to Japan by South Koreans.    


A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson reportedly told the press yesterday that the ministry is “carefully studying” Japan’s request by taking into consideration various factors, including how to relieve the victims’ suffering and build future-oriented bilateral ties. Explaining that a South Korean court probably will not authorize until at least August the liquidation of the ROK-based financial assets of a Japanese steel firm that have already been seized, Mainichi projected that the Moon administration will continue to take a wait-and-see approach toward Japan’s request. 


In a related story, Sankei claimed in a front-page article that Prime Minister Abe has decided not to hold talks with President Moon on the sidelines of the G20 confab in Osaka given Seoul’s failure to heed Japan’s request to establish an arbitration panel. The premier has reportedly concluded that a summit with South Korea would be pointless in the absence of concrete steps by the ROK government to improve bilateral relations. While the prime minister is likely to hold individual meetings with 14 to 15 G20 leaders on the margins of the conference, he is unlikely to sit down with Moon for an official summit. Nikkei projected, however, that Foreign Minister Kono will probably meet with his ROK counterpart in Osaka to try to achieve a breakthrough.   

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