Japan says S.Korea's move to sell assets amid wartime labor row could hurt ties

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-04 22:44:10|Editor: huaxia

TOKYO, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government said Tuesday that assets from a Japanese company seized under a South Korean court ruling on compensation for wartime labor must not be liquidated in the interests of bilateral ties.

Japan's top government spokesperson Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing on the matter that, "Liquidating the Nippon Steel Corp. assets would bring about a serious situation and must be avoided."

"Japan has repeatedly pressed the South Korean side on this matter, and will continue to strongly urge them to resolve the issue," Suga added.

On Tuesday, a branch of the Daegu District Court became able to order the sale of assets held in South Korea by Nippon Steel.

The Japanese steelmaker, for its part, said it would file an appeal against the sale.

Suga said that Tokyo had a range of "options available" if the sale goes ahead.

Such options include, toughening visa requirements for South Korean visitors, temporarily recalling its ambassador from Seoul, or imposing additional tariffs on South Korean products.

In addition, Tokyo could opt to restrict remittances to South Korea, among other measures, sources close to the matter said, although Suga did not specifically refer to any of these.

"We will continue to firmly deal with the issue," Suga said.

Ties have deteriorated between both sides following a South Korean Supreme Court decision in October 2018 ordering Nippon Steel to compensate South Koreans for forced labor under Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule.

Japan, for its part, has claimed the rulings are not in line with international law and run contrary to the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations between the two neighbors since the 1965 normalization of diplomatic ties.

Japan maintains the matter of compensation for wartime labor was "finally and completely" resolved under the pact.

Suga on Tuesday doubled-down on Tokyo's position that Seoul not abiding by the pact was a "clear violation of international law."

If the asset sale goes ahead and Japan retaliates, South Korea, for its part, has said that it will issue its own reprisals against Japan, proportionate to Japan's punitive measures, sources close to the matter here have said. Enditem