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S Korea may freeze Japanese firm's assets if it doesn't negotiate over forced laborers

42 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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If these folks actually take the steps to have their assets frozen the consequences would be more than serious!

21 ( +25 / -4 )

Why would it be “more than serious” ?

Korean law has to be followed, doesn’t it?

-25 ( +5 / -30 )

Korean law has to be followed, doesn’t it?

The law is the law? Orders are orders? You need a better argument than that. Discretion is essential, though I doubt we will see any here.

16 ( +22 / -6 )

So they can't milk Japanese government for more money so they go after private businesses..

Koreans sure love milking that victim card even 80 years later..

20 ( +31 / -11 )

@Yubaru

If these folks actually take the steps to have their assets frozen the consequences would be more than serious!

They can because they have the final verdict from the Supreme Court. Nothing can stop from seizing the Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi's assets in Korea now if they want to.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

So they can't milk Japanese government for more money so they go after private businesses..

Yeah - it's great isn't it?

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

He said the only survivor among the four plaintiffs is already 94 years old.

Ah, so it's the families suing. That makes more sense. Just people looking for a payday using their ancestor's name. How American of them... just give me my money.

17 ( +23 / -6 )

Let the war on trade with Japan and South Korea begin then. They freeze us,we will just respond back in kind. I doubt the government is gonna back out then. Once we accept these terms,a whole lot of problems would be waiting for us. They just gonna keep demanding more and more. Seems like they are eager to pick fights now that North Korea has become their good brother again. Is nothing new. Once their relationship with each other sour, South Korea would once again try to become friends with Japan. Politics.

20 ( +25 / -5 )

Why would it be “more than serious” ? Korean law has to be followed, doesn’t it?

This is a private entity and not the government looking to freeze the assets of a multi-national corporation over a decision by a court that overlooked previous agreements between two countries.

It would set a dangerous precedent and open the doors for anyone in Korea to do the same, and no Japanese company with any history in Korea would be safe from the same.

Freezing the assets of any company or business, when it is not a criminal matter, typically is under the control of the government, if the Korean courts allow the case to move forward and the courts decide in favor of the group, they will be in effect overstepping their bounds by interjecting themselves into a political issue.

25 ( +27 / -2 )

They can because they have the final verdict from the Supreme Court. Nothing can stop from seizing the Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi's assets in Korea now if they want to.

It would be a dangerous precedent that would have far reaching negative effects on relations between SK and Japan.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

@Hiro

Let the war on trade with Japan and South Korea begin then.

Japan cannot fight a trade war with Korea; the country that holds the trade surplus is at a great disadvantage. This is why Japan cannot fight a trade war with the US(Trade surplus), but can fight a trade war with China(Trade deficit).

@Yubaru

Freezing the assets of any company or business, when it is not a criminal matter, typically is under the control of the government

Not in Korea. In Korea, the court verdict is final unless it can be appealed.

Korea is a fully democratic country with clear and well-defined separation of power, unlike Japan where court can be arm twisted by the administration.

So while it is possible for the prime minister to pressure the court to render a favorable verdict, it is not possible in Korea.

-18 ( +4 / -22 )

Its refreshing to see JT use the appropriate term 'forced labor' instead of the absolutely disingenuous ' wartime labor' that became the official term in a fellow rival rag due to right wing pressure. A sad day in journalism for sure.

-15 ( +6 / -21 )

This is a tricky one for Korea. They have now signed several international agreements supposedly 'settling' the issues only to go back and have another bite of the pie when either the government changes and/or civil legal action is taken.

Arguably Japan would have a fairly strong case to argue at the International Court of Justice should they wish to take it that far.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Arguably Japan would have a fairly strong case to argue at the International Court of Justice should they wish to take it that far.

And they should, sooner rather than later, unless they want to see frivolous Korean lawsuits brought against every single Japanese company that existed during WWII.

South Korea seems to be under the mistaken assumption that they live in a bubble. Actions have consequences.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Not in Korea. In Korea, the court verdict is final unless it can be appealed.

Then hopefully the government will intervene and stop this nonsense before it becomes an even bigger problem that has ripple effects to the Korean and Japanese economies!

Maybe a third party mediator, one that no interests with either of the parties involved and one that is neither Korean or Japanese should get involved and help settle the issue!

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Glad this is happening, will certainly bring to light that continued capitulation to South Korea's demands over the years only embolden's them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@inspectorGadget

This is a tricky one for Korea. They have now signed several international agreements supposedly 'settling' the issues only to go back and have another bite of the pie when either the government changes and/or civil legal action is taken.

It is not tricky at all. The Korean supreme court ruled in accordance with the text of the 1965 Treaty, where damages are not covered by the treaty text.

Arguably Japan would have a fairly strong case to argue at the International Court of Justice should they wish to take it that far.

1965 Treaty doesn't cover damages, the word "damage" doesn't exist in all three language versions of the treaty. 

Because damages weren't covered by the 1965 Treaty, the Korean supreme court awarded damages.

To win at the potential trial at the ICJ, Japan must prove that the 1910 annexation treaty was legal, which was signed at gunpoint and most legal scholars consider null and void. The 1965 treaty declared the 1910 treaty was already null and void, even though neither side took any steps to declare it null and void, implying that the 1910 treaty was null and void in 1910.

@extanker

unless they want to see frivolous Korean lawsuits brought against every single Japanese company that existed during WWII.

The standard of winning damages is pretty high.

The claimant must provide documented evidence that

They were conscripted by a specific company.

The company that conscripted them still exist today.

So by this standard Subaru(Fuji Aircraft) is held liable, Honda is not.

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

The two lawyers on Tuesday asked Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp in Tokyo to respond by 5 p.m. on Dec 24. They said if there is no response by the deadline, they will seek to freeze part of the company's assets in South Korea, including shares of PNR, its joint venture with Korean steelmaker POSCO.

Complete publicity stunt by these lawyers.

The power is within the SK court to set a date and issue an order not the lawyers.

Why do these Koreans try to obnoxiously force themselves into the spotlight is a mystery to me.

Demanding a reply by Dec.24 is another mystery since it is a holiday in Japan unless it was some kind of message connecting this whole issue to the Emperor's Birthday in which case they really made a bad mistake.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

@Triring

The power is within the SK court to set a date and issue an order not the lawyers.

And the lower cost must comply with the lawyer's asset freeze petition because they have the final damages verdict by the supreme court.

Why do these Koreans try to obnoxiously force themselves into the spotlight is a mystery to me.

Because the lawyers have no intention of dragging this out. They are going to seize the assets unless Nippon Steel pays up.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

As I had posted before the lawyers have no power at this point. At this point the court is required to issue an order for compliance and it is the court's task to notify the date NOT the lawyers.

It seems you and those lawyers are completely ignorant how Federal Rules of Civil Procedure works.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

One more thing these SK Lawyers have zero power in Japan what so ever since they have not passed the bar exam in Japan.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Japan's government and the companies maintain all wartime compensation issues were settled by a 1965 treaty between the governments and that South Korean rulings violate international law.

If this is so, Japan needs to apply to the international court to have S/Korea put back in its box. Just ignoring S/Korea appears to be an admission of guilt and an avoidance of the issue.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Do the hustleToday  09:48 am JST

If this is so, Japan needs to apply to the international court to have S/Korea put back in its box. Just ignoring S/Korea appears to be an admission of guilt and an avoidance of the issue.

At this point the Japanese government have to wait since there is no actual harm done by the SK court since they have not issued any court order.

These SK civilians who came to Japan to pull a PR stunt is the only thing that happened as far as the Japanese government or the JP company is concerned.

They can't do anything either since the patents are register under JP HQ not a SK branch office. Don't think the stock are either.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Oportunistic koreans..

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Negotiate? Don't they mean bend over?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Demanding your wages is not opportunism. Pity Japanese schools don’t spend more time on critical thinking.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

@Triring

As I had posted before the lawyers have no power at this point.

Surely they do. They gave given Nippon Steel until 24th to reply with a payment plan. If not, then they will proceed with the asset freeze petition which must be granted.

One more thing these SK Lawyers have zero power in Japan

And all the power to go after and seize Nippon Steel's assets in Korea.

@Do the hustle

If this is so, Japan needs to apply to the international court to have S/Korea put back in its box. 

There is no international court with the jurisdiction regarding this matter. For this case to proceed before the ICJ, both side must agree to hear this case before the ICJ.

@kabukilover

Demanding your wages is not opportunism. 

The wage demand was turned down by the Korean supreme court in accordance with the text of the 1965 treaty.

The court granted the damages claim because it wasn't covered by the 1965 treaty.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

this is nothing to do with the 21st century companies. It is to do with the families that did these human rights abuses. These families should be targeted, not the companies and their hard working employees.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

@Goodlucktoyou

this is nothing to do with the 21st century companies.

A corporation is a legal person.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

The amount of trade between Japan and Korea is worth far more than the damages that one company is being asked to cough up.

Some posters want to politicize the ruling - good luck there.....

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Removing politics, nationalism, etc. from this scenario (yeah not possible...) this would be a very, very bad move on Korea's part. Korea is pushing heavily for FDI and this would really send a bad message to those wanting to invest there.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Samit BasuToday  11:04 am JST

Surely they do. They gave given Nippon Steel until 24th to reply with a payment plan. If not, then they will proceed with the asset rfeeze petition which must be granted.

As I have posted the lawyers have nothing to do the court had ruled a decision and the lawyers can only wait since everything will be handled by the court based on Code of Civil Procedure which includes notification and court order forcing the defendant to comply. There is no need for freeze petition, what ever that is since the court ruling automatically results in a asset freeze if the defendant does not comply.

Unfortunately the defendant is a Japanese company with all assets registered under the Japanese entity in which the SK court has NO jurisdiction and the SK lawyer not able to practice law if they have not passed the Japanese bar exam.

As I said from the beginning, it's PR stunt.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

First, Korea played the victim card in shaming Japanese companies to make capital investments in Korea.

Now, Korea starts seizing those assets as a way of unilaterally obtaining the compensation to which it thinks the country is entitled.

Something tells me that fewer and fewer foreign companies are going to be interested in making capital investments in Korea in the future. Plundering assets is a good way to ensure that nobody parks assets in Korea ever again.

Perhaps the Korean market is lucrative enough and the seizures small enough that Japanese companies will put up with this for now. But how long until more Koreans try to plunder more? And once all Japanese assets are pulled from Korea, how long until Koreans turn their eye to American or other foreign-held assets? When a country has built its national identity around victimhood, it's very hard to stop playing the victim.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Wallace Fred Today 08:00 am JST

Its refreshing to see JT use the appropriate term 'forced labor' instead of the absolutely disingenuous ' wartime labor' that became the official term in a fellow rival rag due to right wing pressure. A sad day in journalism for sure.

-11( +4 / -15 )

The Koreans who moved to Japan after August 8, 1944, in which National Requisition Ordinance was applied to Korean, were undoubtedly forced laborers. On the other hand, the Koreans who moved to Japan before 1944 were NOT forced laborers, who willingly moved to Japan or got scammed by bad recruiters.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

SK government keeps quiet without coming up with any measures to be taken but denounces Japan for losing patience while kids lawyers are threatening Japanese companies setting 24th this month as deadline. both looking stupid.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

S.K Government also denounces Japan as overly making the issues legal matters, at the same time, makes excuse that final legal sentence must be respected. looks idiotic

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Samit BasuToday 09:07 am JST

Because damages weren't covered by the 1965 Treaty

I think you are the only one who says so. The treaty uses the word "claim". It includes compensation for damages. Any right to receive money is a claim, whether the right comes from legal acts or illegal damages.

The treaty says, "no claims shall be made". Everything was settled with the Japanese payment in 1965.

We should also look at the dispute resolution clause of the treaty.

Article III

1 Any dispute between the High Contracting Parties concerning the interpretation or the implementation of this Agreement shall be settled primarily through diplomatic channels.

2 Any dispute which cannot be settled under the provision of paragraph 1 above shall be submitted for decision to an arbitral commission of three arbitrators

Because of this clause in the treaty, Supreme Court of South Korea does not have the final say in the interpretation of the treaty. "Any dispute" must be brought to an international arbitration, if it cannot be settled diplomatically.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

CH3CHO

I think you are the only one who says so. 

Just read all the news reporting on this issue. The fact that 1965 treaty didn't cover damages is at the core of these rulings.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/11/forced-labor-court-decision-opens-rift-in-japan-south-korea-ties/

However, South Korea’s supreme court ruled that the 1965 bilateral treaty did not terminate individuals’ rights to claim damages, Yonhap News reported.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Sonfa Oh, Korean born scholar, has pointed out that Korean national identity is based on victimhood. Her book "Getting Over It! Why Korea Needs to Stop Bashing Japan" needs updating (it was published in 2015) but still shows how Japan-bashing and "we were done wrong" is absolutely essential to the contemporary Korean idenity and Korean politics.

Ireland had 800 years of British rule but the Irish got over it. The Koreans had 35 years of Japanese rule but not only seem incapable of getting over it but are making a bigger issue out of it as the years pass. As Sonfa Oh points out there is less hostility to Japan among those Koreans who experienced Japanese rule than those born after it ended. Go figure, as they say.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@Samit Basu

You are entirely wrong. The damages were covered and also those are not the core of this ruling.

> Article II

*3 As a condition to comply with the provisions of paragraph 2 above, no claims shall be made with respect to the measures relating to the property, rights, and interests of either High Contracting Party and its people which were brought under the control of the other High Contracting Party on the date of the signing of the present Agreement, or to all the claims of either High Contracting Party and its people arising from the causes which occurred prior to that date.*

 

The reason “the claims” is always separately referred to in this article from the property, rights, and interests is to separate intangible and/or possibly disputable claims from tangible assets or substantive(economical) rights to emphasize the agreement covers any sort of claims including not only for damages but also for whatever unknown claims which both parties could not think of, hence unable to discuss at the time of the agreement. Those are all for ending the disputes and making the agreement final, complete, irreversible.

 

The above is obvious from the actual dialogue between delegates. Korean delegates did refer to illegal occupation, did argue inhumane nature of forcing Koreans(the people of occupied country), compensations for all including even mental pain. Those things which Korean top court defined issues outside the treaty were actually there on the discussion table. They kept arguing about legitimacy of annexation again and again on the table but unfortunately failed to reach to the agreement about it.  Nonetheless, at least, they agreed to end the dispute to start new diplomatic relationship.

 

Korean top court  ignored these 10year discussion process to reach the final agreement.

As two minority opinions clarified at the time of verdict, Korean Top court should follow the spirit of the agreement or make 1965 treaty null and void completely. 

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Korean law has to be followed, doesn’t it?

Oh, you mean like the agreement and settlement that was signed and supposed to be done and done with in 1965? Japan provided South Korea with $300 million grant in economic aid and $200 million in loans together with $300 million in loans for private trust, a total of $800 million as "economic cooperation". By this Agreement, problems in regard to property and claims between Japan and Korea have been settled completely and finally.

Read all about it here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_Basic_Relations_between_Japan_and_the_Republic_of_Korea

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I also found this to be very interesting as to back up the reasons why I am against the constant begging/bullying for money from S. Korea :

In January 2005, the South Korean government disclosed 1,200 pages of diplomatic documents that recorded the proceeding of the treaty. The documents, kept secret for 40 years, recorded that the Japanese government actually proposed to the South Korean government to directly compensate individual victims but it was the South Korean government which insisted that it would handle individual compensation to its citizens and then received the whole amount of grants on behalf of the victims.

The South Korean government demanded a total of 364 million dollars in compensation for the 1.03 million Koreans conscripted into the workforce and the military during the colonial period, at a rate of 200 dollars per survivor, 1,650 dollars per death and 2,000 dollars per injured person. South Korea agreed to demand no further compensation, either at the government or individual level, after receiving $800 million in grants and soft loans from Japan as compensation for its 1910–45 colonial rule in the treaty.

Its like paying child support, but the parent uses it only on themselves cor lavish spending. And when the money runs out, they intimidate the paying parent for more money.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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