Japanese minister Kono advises South Korea as row deepens

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/File Photo

Japan’s foreign minister publicly admonished South Korea’s ambassador on Friday in a deepening row over compensation for Korean forced labourers that has spilled over into their trade in high-tech materials used to make memory chips and screens.

The dispute between the two important U.S. allies took a deadly turn on Friday when a South Korean man set himself on fire in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in an apparent protest. He later died.

South Korea accused Japan of violating international law with its curbs this month on the export of high-tech materials to South Korean chipmaking giants, which could disrupt global supply chains.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned South Korea’s ambassador to Japan, Nam Gwan-pyo, a day after the passing of a deadline set by Japan for South Korea to accept third-country arbitration of the forced-labor dispute.

Relations been the neighbours have been difficult for decades because of South Korean resentment of Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula.

The forced labour issue was thrust to center stage last year when a South Korean court ordered two Japanese firms to pay compensation to Koreans forced to work for them.


Zainab Sa’id