Japan Slams S.korea's Refusal Of Arbitration Talks

Japan slams S.Korea's refusal of arbitration talks

A senior Japanese government official has criticized South Korea for refusing to agree to an arbitration panel over a wartime labor dispute.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura spoke to reporters on Wednesday, a day after a senior South Korean official said his country would reject Japan's request for an arbitration panel.

Nishimura said Japan will continue urging the South to agree to arbitration, as stipulated in an agreement signed in 1965.

Thursday is the deadline to choose a third country to join such a panel.

South Korea's Supreme Court last year ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to South Koreans who say they were forced to work for the firms during World War Two.

Japan maintains that any right to compensation was settled completely and finally in the 1965 agreement signed when the two countries normalized ties.

Nishimura also addressed an announcement made Tuesday by plaintiffs in one of the cases. The plaintiffs said they will soon begin court procedures to sell assets seized from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Nishimura said the government will deal with the issue resolutely as part of its responsibility to protect the legitimate business of a Japanese firm. He said the government would consider every possible option in response to the plaintiffs' move.

Nishimura also responded to criticism from South Korea's intelligence chief on Japan's handling of sanctions on North Korea. National Intelligence Service head Suh Hoon said on Tuesday that Japan had allowed ships suspected of violating UN Security Council resolutions to enter its ports.

Nishimura said the government is aware that some ships subject to a South Korean entry ban entered Japanese ports.

He said the Japanese authorities inspected the ships and found no evidence they carried North Korean coal or violated Japanese laws.