South Korea flatly refused to respond to Japan's proposal of having a third party arbitrate their wartime forced labor issue.
July 18th was the deadline by which Seoul was supposed to answer but on Thursday, Seoul's foreign ministry said:
"It's a deadline that Japan designated unilaterally and arbitrarily. There's no need for us to abide by that."
Japan, earlier in the day, strongly urged Seoul to respond by Thursday.
Tokyo's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said the Japanese government will wait until 12 o-clock midnight and he claimed that Seoul has to answer Tokyo's request according to their 1965 bilateral agreement, which stipulates how to settle the issue of wartime forced labor.
But South Korea, in the end, decided not to.
On Tuesday, Seoul's presidential office had publicly spurned the request, calling it "unacceptable."
"The South Korean government's interpretation would be the arbitration is based on entirely voluntary cooperation between two governments. One government cannot unilaterally impose upon the other government the arbitration procedure."
The expert adds South Korea looks to settle the issue through diplomatic resolution first, as stipulated in the 1965 Agreement.
"South Korean government's position is that we have not even gone through the diplomatic resolution, or at least we have to attempt to resolve the disputes or differences through diplomatic avenue. Only when diplomatic avenue has been exhausted without any results can the arbitration be started."
"South Korea says it's considering a range of responses to the escalating tension with Japan over wartime forced labor. Seoul is keeping a close eye on the possibility of Tokyo making additional provocative moves over the next two weeks, as Japan holds an Upper House election this week and gathers opinions from stakeholders on taking Seoul out of its exports whitelist.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News."