• Kyodo

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A South Korean district court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five South Koreans who sought damages from Mitsubishi Materials Corp. over wartime labor during the time when the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule, local media reported.

The plaintiffs, who are the bereaved family of a person surnamed Lee, had demanded 100 million won ($86,600) from the Japanese company, claiming that Lee was forced to work at coal mines in Japan from 1941 to 1945, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The Seoul Central District Court ruling came after the same court in June dismissed a wartime labor compensation lawsuit brought by a group of South Koreans against 16 Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Materials.

The June ruling stood in contrast to a South Korean Supreme Court ruling in October 2018 that ordered what is now Nippon Steel Corp. to compensate South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule.

The top court ruling — along with a series of similar wartime labor rulings in South Korean courts against Japanese companies in subsequent months — only serves to worsen already strained ties between Japan and South Korea that largely revolve around historical issues.

Japan has maintained that issues relating to property and claims between the two countries and their peoples stemming from the colonial rule have been settled "completely and finally" under a 1965 bilateral accord under which Japan provided grants and loans to South Korea.

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