Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday said Japanese businesses will not compensate Asians who were forced into slave labor during World War II.
Speaking to reporters, Kishida declined to comment specifically on a recent ruling by a high court in Korea that ordered Nippon Steel to pay W100 million each to four victims of forced labor as compensation for unpaid salaries and mental suffering. He said the appeal is still pending but added the issue should be dealt with according to the "consistent stance" of the Japanese government.
The "consistent stance" is Japan's official view that it adequately compensated Korean victims in a lump sum payment to the Korean government under a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations.
Kishida also urged unity among Japanese people in dealing with the issue, an apparent reference to opponents of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's far-right government who want Japan to take responsibility for past atrocities.
Kyodo News recently said Nippon Steel would have to compensate former Korean slave laborers if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling. But Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Tokyo has not changed its stance in dealing with the issue of compensation and will not accept the Korean court's ruling.
That suggests the Japanese government would actively try to block any payouts by firms involved in such lawsuits.