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Strained Seoul-Tokyo ties remain on 55th year of diplomatic relations
Updated: 2020-06-22 06:52:54 KST
Fifty-five years have passed since Seoul and Tokyo established diplomatic relations, but their ties are chillier than ever.

The key dispute stems from their different interpretation of the definition of Japan's colonization, which is closely linked to the issue of wartime forced labor.
The 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations says, all treaties or agreements concluded between two sides during the colonial rule on or before August 22, 1910 are quote "already null and void."
South Korea believes the term means nullifying the justification of the annexation.
It was seen that way by the South Korean Supreme Court that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean forced laborer while clearly stating such an act was illegal.
However, Tokyo insists that "nullify" means terminating the previous treaties that were legally signed.

Another source of tension comes from the Agreement on Property and Claims on Economic Co-operation" that says the agreement "terminates individuals' rights to file independent damage suits".
South Korea's top court saw that those "suits" do not include cases of infringement of human rights deciding to freeze the local assets of a local Japanese steel company that refused to compensate the victims.
Japan responded by sending a strong warning of retaliation upon the sell-off of the company,while insisting Seoul had violated international law for not abiding by the deal.

Most recently, their ties have been further strained over Japan's UNESCO-listed wartime industrial facilities.
The country has so far has not kept its promise to address its past use of Korean forced labor at its recently established information center built on the infamous Hashima Island,prompting South Korean officials to send a letter requesting UNESCO to remove the listing.

Against this backdrop, the Seoul-Tokyo trade spat continues at the World Trade Organization, and is unlikely be settled anytime soon.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.
Reporter : kelee@arirang.com