Japan threatens retaliation against S. Korea's refusal of third-country arbitration panel

Paige Turner, July 15, 2019, 9:53 a.m.

Japan on Saturday threatened more retaliation unless Korea agrees to resolve a dispute over compensations for wartime forced-labor victims through a third-country arbitration panel.

The Yomiuri Shimbun quoted a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official as saying Korea's refusal to refer the matter to third-country arbitration would be construed as a "violation of international law" and prompt Japan to take "responsive measures."

Japan has already slapped restrictions on exports of three materials that are vital to Korean producers of microchips, smartphones and TVs, and shipments of hydrogen fluoride had been halted for 10 days as of Sunday.

A first bilateral meeting in Tokyo on Friday to address the export curbs got off to a bad start, with both sides accusing the other of lying.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy here, Japan claimed at the meeting that it has no intention of leaving Korea off a "whitelist" of countries that do not require individual permits each time they want to buy three core materials.

Diplomatic sources said Japan is rumored to have rejected a U.S. proposal to hold a three-party meeting with Korea.

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has again refused to comply with a Korean court ruling to compensate Korean victims of forced labor. A court here has authorized the seizure of Mitsubishi's Korean assets by Monday if the company does not comply with the order.

Kim Hyun-chong, Cheong Wa Dae's deputy national security adviser, returned from Washington on Sunday and said he did not ask the U.S. to mediate in the dispute. But he added, "The U.S. will play a role if needed."

Korea and Japan will face off once again at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva from July 23 to 24.

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