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S. Korea Seeks to Refute Japan over Wartime Forced Labor Dispute

Write: 2019-07-19 17:28:35Update: 2019-07-19 19:46:49

S. Korea Seeks to Refute Japan over Wartime Forced Labor Dispute

Photo : YONHAP News

​Anchor: Seoul and Tokyo's diplomats collided on Friday over the Japanese wartime forced labor issue, widely regarded as the root cause of the current bilateral trade row. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Seoul's ambassador to Tokyo Nam Gwan-pyo held a heated debate while Seoul's deputy national security adviser held a news conference seeking to refute Tokyo's position.
Kim Bum-soo has more. 

Report: Tokyo has lodged a formal protest against Seoul for refusing to respond to a Japanese call for a third-party arbitration committee to discuss disputed court rulings on wartime forced labor. 

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo on Friday as Seoul missed the Thursday deadline to respond to Tokyo’s proposal for third-party arbitration. 

Kono expressed deep regret during the meeting, arguing that Seoul is turning the post-World War II international order on its head. Japan's top diplomat also argued that Seoul is not abiding by the 1965 bilateral settlement of Japanese colonial occupation of Korea in violation of international law.

After Kono and Nam held a heated 25-minute debate in Tokyo, South Korean deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong held a news conference, seeking to refute Japan's position.

[Sound bite: Kim Hyun-chong - deputy chief, Presidential National Security Office (Korean)] 
"Japan's wrong to continuously claim that [South Korea] is violating international law. The South Korean Supreme Court ruled that the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Korea and Japan did not cover crimes against humanity and human rights violations, and as a democratic state, South Korea cannot ignore or discard the ruling." 

Tokyo asked Seoul to accede to forming a third-party arbitration committee to discuss last year's South Korean court rulings ordering several Japanese companies to pay reparations to Korean victims of wartime forced labor. 

Seoul says recent trade restrictions Japan launched against South Korean tech giants came in retaliation to the court decision. 

[Sound bite: Kim Hyun-chong - deputy chief, Presidential National Security Office (Korean)] 
"When implementing the export restriction measures, Japan first referred to broken trust over past [wartime] issues, then raised issues over export controls, and today, Japan again brought up the wartime forced labor issue. It is confusing what Japan's position is. In the current situation, we request Japan to withdraw its unfair export restriction measures and refrain from words and actions that can further aggravate the situation." 

While noting that Seoul is willing to resolve the current situation diplomatically, Kim added the government will keep "all options" on the table to deal with Japan.

Another presidential official told reporters that the fate of their bilateral military information-sharing accord is among the options. 

The pact dubbed "General Security of Military Information Agreement(GSOMIA)" is renewed annually for Seoul and Tokyo to share military intelligence. However, South Korean lawmakers have recently suggested the option of not renewing the military accord amid strained Seoul-Tokyo ties. 
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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