Japan ready to fight ruling over wartime laborers

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Japan ready to fight ruling over wartime laborers

Japan’s government will take legal action if the South Korean Supreme Court upholds a ruling mandating that two Japanese companies compensate the Korean laborers forcibly conscripted to work there during World War II, according to a Japanese newspaper.

Without identifying its sources, the Sankei Shimbun reported yesterday that the Japanese government would regard such a move as a “grave violation of the international law” and that “legal action” could include raising the issue with the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

Japan is preparing for the coming ruling - expected to be made in early 2014 - the paper said, by advising the two companies not to adhere to the Korean court’s call for compensation.

This issue was previously discussed at a meeting between Japanese and South Korean deputy vice ministers on Oct. 8 in Seoul, the newspaper said. At the time, senior Japanese diplomat Shinsuke Sugiyama and his Korean counterpart Kim Kyu-hyun allegedly concluded that the matter of compensation for forced labor “was fully and conclusively settled” in the 1965 treaty that normalized diplomatic relations between the two Koreas, which was signed under the Park Chung Hee administration, the Sankei added.

Shinsuke also called the ruling by the Seoul High Court on July 10 “a clear violation of international law.” The ruling ordered for the first time Japan’s New Nippon Steel Corporation to award 100 million won ($87,989) in damages to four Korean men who were forcibly recruited.

Separately, the Gwangju District Court also ruled on Nov. 1 in favor of four women who were forced to work at Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, awarding the women 150 million won each, and 80 million won to the families of two deceased workers.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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