SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Korea Bizwire) — Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called for Japan to refrain from “excessive responses” to this week’s local court ruling ordering Tokyo to compensate victims of its wartime sexual slavery during phone talks with her Japanese counterpart on Saturday.
Kang made the appeal in the phone call with Toshimitsu Motegi amid renewed tensions between the two countries following Friday’s landmark ruling in favor of the South Korean victims.
“Minister Kang requested that the Japanese government refrain from excessive responses,” the foreign ministry said in a press release.
“The two ministers shared the view that the diplomatic authorities of the two countries will continue close communication regarding pending issues between South Korea and Japan, including this issue,” it added.
During the talks, Motegi lodged a protest to Kang over the court ruling, saying Japan does not accept the ruling, Kyodo News reported.
Motegi also urged South Korea to “immediately take appropriate measures to correct the violation of international law,” the Japanese media outlet said, citing a statement by Tokyo’s foreign ministry.
The Seoul Central District Court ordered Tokyo to make financial reparations of 100 million won (US$91,300) each to 12 “comfort women” who were dragged away from their homes and forced to work in front-line military brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Tokyo maintains the issues of comfort women were permanently resolved through a bilateral agreement in 2015 with Seoul.
But the victims have called the agreement inadequate, saying it lacks a sincere apology from Tokyo and that their voices were left out during the negotiation process.
The latest flare-up of tensions came as Seoul seeks to mend ties with Tokyo as part of efforts to create fresh diplomatic opportunities to resume nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.
The ruling also came as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to knit back America’s democratic alliances to shore up its global leadership and jointly confront global challenges on security, climate change and other fronts.