Tokyo Warns Against Selling Japanese Firms' Korean Assets

  • By Lee Ha-won

    May 07, 2019 13:58

    Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday warned Seoul to prevent the selloff of the Korean assets of Japanese companies that have refused to comply with Korean court orders to compensate forced labor victims.

    Kono told NHK during a visit to Ethiopia on Sunday that such moves will "damage the legal foundation" of bilateral relations.

    Taro Kono /NHK

    Last October, Tokyo refused to accept the Korean Supreme Court's ruling that a Japanese company should compensate its forced labor victims, while urging Seoul to respect a 1965 agreement that Tokyo claims settled all claims of the victims of wartime atrocities.

    He warned that Tokyo would take "prompt action" if court orders caused damage to Japanese companies.

    Kono lashed out at remarks by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in a press briefing on May 2, where she said the Korean government cannot intervene in the process if victims who have won their case in a court of law exercise their right to sell off the assets.

    But Kono claimed stopping the sale is "not an intervention in judicial procedure" and the problem must be solved or risk causing "misunderstanding" between the two neighbors.

    The Supreme Court here last year ruled that a treaty between states cannot override the rights of individual victims to sue for compensation from their abusers. 

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