Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has summoned the South Korean Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo, after the South Korean government failed to respond to Japan's call for third-country arbitration to settle the forced labor dispute.
Japan had set a midnight deadline for Korea to accept, made in response to Seoul's Supreme Court decision ordering Japanese companies to compensate the victims.
Ambassador Nam was summoned to Tokyo's foreign ministry Friday to hear Japan's complaint.
Minister Kono expressed deep disappointment in the South Korean government and called on Korea to correct the situation, which he called an unacceptable violation of international law.
"South Korea cannot ignore this violation of international law, and I strongly urge it to take corrective measures immediately."
Nam, however, turned that around, saying it's Japan's unilateral measures that are hurting bilateral relations.
Pointing out that the people and businesses of both countries are suffering the consequences, he emphasized the need for a quick resolution through dialogue.
"As part of such efforts, the South Korean government has delivered its plan to Japan. I hope both sides will be able to discuss a better solution based on this."
Japan's discontent was evident in Kono's harsh remarks and the fact that he interrupted while Nam was speaking.
Afterwards, the Japanese foreign minister released a statement, calling the Supreme Court's rulings "deeply regrettable and absolutely unacceptable."
He hinted at the possibility of additional retaliatory measures.
And said there will be a new set of actions in light of the escalated tensions between Seoul and Tokyo.
The 1965 bilateral agreement between the two countries states that an arbitration panel can be set up within 30 days after either side's request.
But it cannot be done if one side objects.
South Korea's top office has repeatedly shown reluctance to agree to mediation, saying the dispute should be settled through bilateral discussions.
The Blue House and the foreign ministry have also expressed regret over the summoning of South Korea's diplomat.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.