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South Korea moves to avoid Japanese asset sale in requisitioned workers case

Reuters file photo
Kim Seong-ju, a wartime requistioned worker during the Japanese colonial period, arrives with relatives of others in front of the Supreme Court in Seoul on Nov. 29, 2018.

SEOUL — South Korea’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has submitted an opinion to the country’s top court explaining the new administration’s efforts to resolve a lawsuit involving Japanese companies and former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula — an issue that has deeply divided the two nations — a source close to the ministry said Saturday.

The opinion, dated July 26, states that the South Korean government is “continuing diplomatic efforts to find a reasonable solution that serves the common interests of both Japan and South Korea.”

The administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol is keen to improve the country’s relationship with Japan. It is thought the opinion is aimed at avoiding the liquidation of Japanese corporate assets in South Korea.

In 2018, South Korea’s top court finalized rulings ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to former requisitioned workers and others who were mobilized from the Korean Peninsula during Japanese colonial rule.

Following the decision, legal procedures are underway to order the seizure and sale of assets of Japanese firms that do not agree to pay.

A Japanese company that made further appeal against the order is currently being heard at the top court, but it is thought the court will likely dismiss the new appeal as early as August.

The South Korean government plans to craft a solution based on discussions at a public-private council that was established in July, which numbers plaintiffs and experts among its members.