Kono: S.korea Should Resolve Wartime Labor Issues

Kono: S.Korea should resolve wartime labor issues

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has reiterated his call for South Korea to quickly correct the current situation on wartime labor issues.

Kono spoke to reporters in Thailand on Thursday after he met his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha earlier in the day.

Kono said South Korean court rulings in cases of former workers from the Korean Peninsula have created the present situation that violates international law.

Since last October, South Korea's Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings, ordering Japanese companies to compensate people who say they were forced to work for the firms during World War Two.

Assets belonging to the companies have been seized and some plaintiffs have taken court procedures to sell them off.

The Japanese government maintains that the issue of the right to claim compensation was settled when a bilateral agreement was signed in 1965.

Tokyo has asked Seoul to enter third-party arbitration based on the agreement. But Seoul has not responded.

Kono also referred to appeals in South Korea to scrap a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact called the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA. The deal comes up for renewal every year. It can be nullified by either side by giving notice by August 24.

Kono said the matter is related to national security and should not be confused with other issues.

Kono also said he held short talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday. The Japanese minister said Pompeo did not offer to mediate between Japan and South Korea.