Japan on Friday summoned South Korea’s ambassador to protest Seoul’s refusal to join in an arbitration panel to settle a dispute over World War II labor.
South Korea had until midnight Thursday to respond to Japan‘s request for a three-nation panel. The neighboring countries are quarreling over South Korean court decisions ordering Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono said after summoning South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo that Japan will “take necessary measures” against South Korea. He cited “severe conditions of Japan-South Korea relations caused by the South Korean side,” according to Kyodo News service.
Japan says all compensation issues had been settled under the 1965 bilateral agreement and that the South Korean government’s lack of intervention to stop the court process is a breach of the international treaty.
Tokyo is considering taking the issue to the International Court of Justice, although some officials say South Korea is expected to refuse going to court.
At the same time, Seoul is protesting Japan’s tightened controls on sensitive high-tech exports to South Korea that could affect South Korean manufacturers as well as global supplies of smartphones and displays.
The trade dispute adds to their already strained relations.
Seoul has accused Tokyo of weaponizing trade to retaliate against South Korean court rulings calling for Japanese companies to compensate aging South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II, and plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
Tokyo said the issue has nothing to do with historical dispute between the countries and says privileged licensing for the materials affected by the export controls can be sent only to trustworthy trading partners. Without presenting specific examples, it has questioned Seoul’s credibility in controlling the exports of arms and items that can be used for civilian and military purposes.
South Korea has proposed an inquiry by the U.N. Security Council or another international body on the export controls of both countries.