S. Korea gives no answer to Japan’s request over forced labor

SEOUL, South Korea's foreign ministry gave no answer Tuesday to Japan's call to form an arbitration panel to resolve a row over Tokyo's wartime forced labor, saying it is still carefully reviewing the issue.

Tuesday was the deadline for Seoul's decision with regard to the May 20 request by Tokyo to appoint an arbitrator, as stipulated by a 1965 bilateral accord that calls for a response within 30 days after the lodging of a request.

"As we've stated before, we're carefully dealing with the matter. There is nothing else I can say for today," foreign ministry spokesman Kim Inchul told a regular briefing.

Japan's request came in protest of South Korean Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms late last year to compensate Korean forced labor victims for unpaid work.

Japan argues that all colonialera reparation issues were settled under the 1965 deal that normalized bilateral ties.

The Japanese firms have not complied with the court orders, prompting the victims to take legal steps to seize or liquidate the companies' assets based in Korea. Seoul has yet to respond to Tokyo's request.

The 1965 accord stipulates that the two sides are to settle any dispute primarily through diplomatic channels. If they fail to settle it, the case can then be referred to a commission involving a thirdcountry arbitrator agreed on by the two sides.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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