Japan Protests Against Ruling to Seize Steelmaker's Assets

  • By Lee Ha-won

    January 10, 2019 12:36

    The Japanese government on Wednesday protested against a court ruling here to seize the Korean assets of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal at the request of forced labor victims.

    Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba summoned Korean Ambassador Lee Su-hoon to lodge a formal protest and demand talks about a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic relations in return for a lump sum compensation.

    Korean Ambassador Lee-Su-hoon answers questions from reporters at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    The Daegu District Court on Tuesday authorized the seizure of Nippon Steel's shares in POSCO-Nippon Steel RFH (PNR), a joint venture specializing in recycling by-products from steel making, after the Japanese company failed to pay compensation to the victims ordered by the Supreme Court here last October.

    Nippon Steel forfeited the right to sell 81,075 of its shares in PNR worth around W400 million (US$1=W1,122).

    An emergency Japanese cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga discussed the option of seeking diplomatic talks with Korea first, followed by the formation of a bilateral mediation committee and the possibility of taking the case to the International Court of Justice. It also mooted punitive tariffs on imports from Korea.

    The Foreign Ministry here said it will "review" Japan's call for bilateral talks, but vowed to "uphold the court's ruling and due process and consider the rights of victims and bilateral relations."

    Seoul also urged Tokyo to handle the matter "objectively and cautiously." 

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