Forced labor rulings may spur ICJ suit, Seoul told


Japan has warned South Korea that it may file a suit with the International Court of Justice if court rulings ordering Japanese firms to pay compensation to Koreans for forced labor during the war become final, Japanese officials said Monday.

The Foreign Ministry has advised the two defendant companies, including Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., not to pay compensation to avoid possibly affecting many other companies, according to the officials.

Japan maintains that all claims related to wartime compensation were rendered invalid by a pact concluded when Japan and South Korea normalized diplomatic relations in 1965.

In a joint statement on Nov. 6, business groups in Japan, including Keidanren, said the compensation issue “could damage the good economic relations between Japan and South Korea.”

A Foreign Ministry executive said, “An extremely serious situation would arise” if the rulings become final and South Korea seizes the Japanese defendants’ assets in the country.

In July, two South Korean high courts ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay redress to Korean ex-forced laborers.