Five victims and families of victims who were forced to work for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries during Japan's colonial rule over South Korea requested a local court on Tuesday to sell off the firm's South Korea-based assets to compensate them.
The court has already frozen 680-thousand U.S. dollars worth of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' local patent rights and assets.
The victims' lawyers said at the press briefing that the decision comes as the firm has not been carrying out the Supreme Court's orders for the past 8 months, and that the firm has been ignoring their polite request for meetings.
It's the general and humanitarian understanding that the human rights of the victims be restored. But Japan, which is a judicially independent country, intervenes in the rulings and goes a step further to stop Mitsubishi from carrying out the order. It also, regretfully, is taking economic retaliation against South Korea. As the victims are very elderly, we cannot wait much longer and we strongly urge Japan to apologize and compensate the victims."
Now this comes as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has not followed the Supreme Court's ruling last November ordering it to give five people compensation of between 85-thousand and 129-thousand U.S. dollars each.
Japan insists the issue was resolved when Seoul and Tokyo established diplomatic ties in 1965, when they provided South Korea with funds to normalize ties.
Japan once again reiterated its stance on Tuesday.
"The movement of cashing assets of Japanese companies is very concerning. There is no change in the government's position to strongly urge the Korean side to take measures to correct this illegal condition."
This is the second such case after a South Korean court started the process of selling off the assets of Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation to compensate the victims of that firm's forced labor earlier this month, by asking the firm to submit their final opinion within 60 days.
The lawyers of Mitsubishi's victims say the process of selling off the assets could also take as long as 6 months, considering all these steps and the actual selling of the assets.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.