Sun, Jul 21, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Japan vows action if South Korea harms companies

AP, TOKYO

Demonstrators tear a Japanese Rising Sun flag at a protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Tokyo would take “necessary measures” against South Korea if interests of Japanese companies are harmed in an escalating dispute over World War II forced labor, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono said on Friday.

The neighboring countries and US allies are quarreling over South Korean court decisions ordering Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-to-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

After summoning South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo, Kono said that Tokyo is prepared to take “necessary measures” to protect the interest of Japanese companies, without giving details.

Their talks were held in an icy atmosphere, briefly turning confrontational.

“It is extremely problematic that South Korea is one-sidedly leaving alone the situation that violates the international law, which is the foundation of our bilateral relationship,” Kono told Nam. “The action being taken by the South Korean government is something that completely overturns the order of the international community since the end of the World War II.”

Kono urged Seoul to immediately take action to stop the court process, under which the plaintiffs are preparing to seize assets of the Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

Nam defended his government and mentioned Seoul’s proposal of creating a joint fund as a way to settle the dispute.

Kono raised his voice, saying that Tokyo had already rejected the idea.

North Korean state media sided with Seoul, accusing Tokyo of “destroying the trend of peace on the Korean Peninsula by putting pressure upon South Korea through the restrictions.”

“The human, physical and emotional damage Japan has caused to the Korean people [during its colonial rule] cannot be compensated even if the entire nation of Japan sacrifices itself,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

Additional reporting by AFP

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