South Korea’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corps. (NSSM) to compensate South Koreans for wartime forced labor and unpaid work. Japan has expressed strong regret at the top court’s ruling, summoning Seoul’s top envoy in Tokyo Lee Su-hoon to lodge a protest.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Tuesday that the matter had been “completely and finally” settled by the 1965 treaty, saying, “This verdict is a decision that is impossible in light of international law.”
“This decision is extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable,” Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono also said in a statement. “The decision completely overthrows the legal foundation of the friendly and cooperative relationship that Japan and the Republic of Korea have developed since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1965.”
“Japan strongly demands that the Republic of Korea take appropriate measures, including immediate actions to remedy such breach of international law,” Kono said, warning that his country would consider taking the case to an international court. “If appropriate measures are not taken immediately, Japan will examine all possible options, including international adjudication, and take resolute actions accordingly from the standpoint of protecting the legitimate business activities by Japanese companies.”