Diplomatic rift grows between South Korea and Japan

Kenji Kanasugi, director general of Asia and Oceania affairs at Japan's foreign ministry, arrives at the foreign ministry building in Seoul on Dec. 24, 2018, for talks with South Korean officials. The talks are the first since bilateral relations turned tense following the South Korean Supreme Court's recent rulings ordering two Japanese firms to compensate Koreans they mobilized as forced laborers. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, Dec. 25 (UPI) — South Korea and Japan clashed over a radar claim and historic issues amid a growing diplomatic rift.

Kim Yong-kil, director-general of the Northeast Asian affairs at Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, met Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanic Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Monday to discuss a recent South Korea’s court ruling on forced laborers during World War II and Japan’s alleged claim on the South Korea warship’s directing of radar onto a Japanese patrol plane.

Kanasugi told reporters after the meeting that he strongly demanded that South Korea take measures to prevent the recurrence of the military incident, Mainichi Shimbun reported.

“The two countries agreed to continue to communicate over the issue,” said Kanasugi, according to NHK.

Japan claimed that a South Korean warship locked radar on a Japanese patrol plane for multiple times last Thursday, calling it an “extremely dangerous act,” according to Mainichi Shimbun.

South Korea refuted the Japanese claim.

Seoul’s defense ministry said Monday that the warship was on a mission to rescue a North Korean fishing vessel in the East Sea and used the radar to search for the ship.

The South Korean foreign ministry said that it expressed a strong regret over the Japanese “groundless” claim and Japanese official didn’t particularly argue against it, according to Yonhap News.

The South Korean and Japanese officials also discussed a South Korean court ruling that orders a Japanese steel company to compensate former South Korean workers forced to work at a steel factory during the Japanese colonial rule over Korea.

Officials said they exchanged their views without revealing details of the discussion.

“We will continue to communicate to minimize effects of the issue on our bilateral ties,” Kim said.

The South Korean Supreme Court ruled last month that Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp. should pay more than $87,000 (100 million won) to each of the four South Koreans for forced labor and unpaid wages under the Japanese colonial rule.

Japan protested the ruling, saying that compensation issues had already been settled in a 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea.


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