Wartime South Korean workers seek to sell assets of Japanese company
SEOUL – Lawyers representing South Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during World War II said on Wednesday they had asked a court to sell the seized assets of Nippon Steel and machine maker Nachi-Fujikoshi for get compensation, a move that could trigger a reaction from Tokyo.
This is the first time that the plaintiffs have initiated the process of selling the assets of Japanese companies. A court ruling and restoring order to the businesses are expected to take some time, however, with plaintiffs’ lawyers saying it could be more than three months before the actual sale.
“We hope they apologize to the victims and meet with us” out of court, lawyers said as they aim to pressure the defendants before a decision is made.
Japan’s foreign ministry said it was “taking the situation seriously.”
“We absolutely cannot accept the mis-sale of assets of Japanese companies,” Kenji Kanasugi, director general of Asia and Oceania at the foreign ministry, told Korea’s deputy ambassador by phone. South in Japan.
The sell orders will target the shares of Japanese companies in their South Korean joint ventures. The plaintiffs plan to sell 194,000 shares worth 970 million won ($ 832,139) that Nippon Steel owns in the POSCO-Nippon Steel RHF joint venture, a partnership known as PNR with the southern steelmaker. Korean Posco.
“It is extremely regrettable that real damage can result from this” and “we will continue to react appropriately in consultation with the Japanese government,” said the Japanese steelmaker.
In October, the Supreme Court of South Korea ordered Nippon Steel to compensate four former wartime workers for 100 million won each, while Nachi-Fujikoshi was ordered to pay 80 million won to 100 million won. won each to more than a dozen workers or their survivors in a 2014 lower court ruling.
Although Nachi-Fujikoshi has yet to receive a decision on its final appeal, the machine builder held 76,000 shares worth 760 million won in South Korean joint venture Daesung Nachi Hydraulics, seized by court order. in March.
In addition to pursuing asset foreclosures, the victims filed additional lawsuits against Japanese companies. Former wartime workers asked courts in April to order Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to disclose its South Korean assets. The plaintiffs have already seized the Japanese company’s trademarks and patents but are looking for other seizable assets. The company could face restrictions on financial transactions in the country if it ignores the court order. The same request was made to Nippon Steel in March.
Kanasugi demanded that the South Korean government quickly deal with the series of wartime labor lawsuits, an issue Tokyo considers to have been resolved by a 1965 agreement. Seoul has not responded to the cases.
Tokyo has informed Seoul that it is exploring all possible options in response. “We will have to take retaliatory measures if this damages Japanese companies,” a government official said.