Japan wants talks with South Korea on forced labour case

TOKYO (AFP) -Tokyo said yesterday it would seek talks with Seoul after a South Korean court ruling against a Japanese firm that used wartime forced labour.

The case has become a growing source of tension between the two countries, and Japanese ministers were set to meet on the issue later yesterday.

A South Korean court last week authorised the seizure of assets belonging to Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, after the firm failed to comply with an earlier order to compensate victims of forced labour.

“The move by the plaintiffs to seize the assets of a Japanese company is extremely regrettable. The Japanese government regards this very seriously,” said top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

“We plan to request a discussion with the South Korean government” on the case, he added.

South Korea’s top court in November upheld rulings requiring two Japanese firms – Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – to pay compensation to survivors of wartime forced labour.