Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi criticized Monday a recent South Korean court ruling ordering the Japanese government to pay damages to former "comfort women" — women who suffered under Japan’s military brothel system before and during World War II — saying it has created an "abnormal" situation.

"I will continue to strongly demand an appropriate response by the South Korean side," Motegi said in a speech at the start of this year's regular Diet session. The ruling over the women has reignited bilateral tensions over wartime labor compensation and trade issues.

The Seoul Central District Court's Jan. 8 ruling is "extremely regrettable," as it has caused "an abnormal, totally unthinkable situation in terms of international law and the bilateral relationship," Motegi said in the speech, during which he outlined Japan's foreign policy for the year.