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Abe eyes option of international court arbitration over S. Korean forced labor ruling

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at the House of Representatives Budget Committee in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, on Nov. 1, 2018. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Nov. 1 indicated that Japan could file a case with the International Court of Justice over a South Korean Supreme Court ruling ordering a Japanese company to compensate four former workers who said they were forced to toil at its steel mills during Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Speaking during a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Nov. 1, Abe criticized the South Korean court ruling, which ordered Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp. (NSSMC) to pay about 100 million won (about 10 million yen) to each of the plaintiffs.

"It's an inconceivable decision in light of international law. We will respond resolutely with an eye on all options, including international adjudication," Abe said. He added, "We are strongly expecting a forward-looking response from the South Korean government."

Japan maintains that the right to seek compensation ended with the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The prime minister also made reference to a visit by South Korean lawmakers to Japan-claimed, South Korean-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea, and friction over a 2015 Japan-South Korea agreement on the issue of so-called "comfort women."

"We have confirmed a future-oriented outlook on various occasions, so it's extremely regrettable to see moves that run counter to that," Abe said.

(Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)

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