Wartime Labor Plaintiffs To Apply For Asset Sales

Wartime labor plaintiffs to apply for asset sales

South Korean plaintiffs seeking damages for wartime labor plan to soon begin court procedures to sell assets seized from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The plaintiffs include women who say they were forced to work for the Japanese firm during World War Two. Last November, South Korea's Supreme Court finalized lower court rulings awarding them compensation.

The plaintiffs later won approval from a separate court to seize trademarks and patents owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in South Korea.

On Tuesday, they said they'll soon apply with the court to sell the assets, as the Japanese firm has failed to respond to their requests to hold talks on compensation.

Japan's industry minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters that no Japanese firm should incur damage, and that he wants the Foreign Ministry to basically handle the issue.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries says it will deal with the matter in coordination with the Japanese government.

In May, South Korean plaintiffs who won separate wartime labor lawsuits began court procedures to convert the stocks of Nippon Steel and machinery maker Nachi-Fujikoshi into cash.

Japan has lodged a protest with the South Korean government over the series of moves.

The Japanese government says the issue of the right to claim compensation was settled completely and finally under a 1965 bilateral agreement, when the two countries normalized ties.

It has asked South Korea to launch an arbitration panel involving third countries, based on the bilateral accord.

The deadline to complete the necessary steps to form the panel falls on Thursday. South Korea has yet to respond.

The issue has strained ties between Japan and South Korea. Tensions further rose after Japan recently imposed tougher export restrictions on some high-tech materials to South Korea.

Japan says the measure is in response to national security concerns and that it is not related to the wartime labor issue. But Seoul has reacted sharply.