Japan reiterated its stance that it'll strongly request South Korea to refer the wartime forced labor dispute to a third-party arbitration.
Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said in a briefing on Wednesday that Seoul has a responsibility to answer to Tokyo's demand for arbitration according to a 1965 bilateral agreement which he says stipulates steps regarding how to settle compensation issues towards victims concerning Tokyo's colonial past over Korea.
Nishimura said Tokyo is gravely aware of Seoul's move to expedite and liquidate Japanese companies operating in South Korea following their defeat in local courts and said it'll put all options on the table to request for arbitration when the expedition process is put into action.
Regarding allegations raised by Seoul's National Intelligence Service that Tokyo violated UN Security Council resolutions by allowing ships carrying North Korean coal in and out of its ports, the official acknowledged such ships have entered Japanese territorial waters before but said Tokyo had taken necessary steps with related ministries based on the rule of law to carry out UN sanctions once they docked.
A local expert told Arirang News that Tokyo is not expected to immediately retaliate against Seoul even if it refuses to respond by Thursday to Tokyo's demands to refer the dispute to a third-party arbitration.
What's more, Tokyo would wait at least until Seoul responds with measures such as carrying on with the expedition process as compensation for the victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.
"Tokyo is likely to take a wait-and-see approach even after the Thursday deadline. It knows there are many discussions right now in Seoul on various alternatives to tackle the issue so rather that going straight to the International Court of Justice which could worsen the situation it'll likely try to make diplomatic efforts to resolve the matter."
Speculations were raised that the South Korean government may come up with other measures on compensating victims that have not raised the issue in local courts but a Blue House official shot that possibility down Tuesday saying it won't consider measures that the victims didn't consent to.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.