The Seoul Central District Court on Monday dismissed a wartime labor compensation lawsuit brought by a group of Koreans against 16 Japanese companies including Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Materials.
However, a lawyer supporting the plaintiffs said the ruling contradicted South Korean Supreme Court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to compensate South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule, and that an appeal would be filed.
Monday’s ruling comes ahead of a G7 summit in England that kicks off Friday. Sources say Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is not planning a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the G7 sidelines, even as both countries recognize the need to improve soured ties.
South Korea has been making conciliatory sounds, with Moon in March reiterating his willingness to hold talks over historical issues, sentiments echoed by Seoul’s spy chief in talks with Suga last month. Seoul’s defense minister also suggested the country may strengthen military cooperation with Tokyo.
Japan appears to be drawing the line at multilateral action with South Korea, vowing coordinated action on COVID-19 in trilateral talks with Beijing and Seoul last month, and joining Washington and Seoul in military exercises in Alaska later this week.
South Korea apparently snubbed an American offer of a three-way leaders’ summit with the U.S. and Japan last month.