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The Japanese foreign minister of TOKYO accused South Korea on Monday of worsening already strained ties by making illegal claims for compensation for the sexual abuse of Korean women and the use of forced labor during World War II.

Toshimitsu Motegi, in a diplomatic policy speech in parliament, said a recent South Korean court ruling ordering Japan to compensate 12 South Korean women who were sexually abused in Japanese military brothels during the war was an absolutely abnormal development unthinkable under international law and bilateral relations.

We strongly urge South Korea to correct the violation of international law as soon as possible and to restore healthy relations, Motegi said.

Seoul Central District Court ruled on January 8 that the Japanese government should award 100 million ($ 91,360) in profits to each of the 12 elderly women who filed lawsuits in 2013 for their war suffering as comfortable women.

They were among tens of thousands of women across Asia and the Japanese-occupied Pacific who were sent to Japanese army brigades of the front line.

The ruling exacerbated tensions between the two countries, whose relations had already fallen to a decades-low level over previous South Korean decisions on Japanese actions during its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula 1910-1945.

The Supreme Court of South Korea in 2018 ordered Japanese companies to provide compensation to some South Koreans who were forced to work in their factories during the war.

The forced labor dispute escalated into a trade dispute and prompted South Korea to threaten to scrap a 2016 military intelligence-sharing deal with Japan, a key component of their regional defense cooperation with the United States.

Japan has protested the court ruling, saying all wartime compensation issues were resolved under a 1965 treaty to normalize relations in which Japan provided $ 500 million in economic aid.

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that it would not be desirable for bilateral relations if Seoul and Tokyo fail to find a diplomatic solution before South Korean courts proceed with the liquidation of local assets. of Japanese companies that were confiscated after they refused to compensate wartime Korean workers.

Moon also described the comfort that governs women as frankly a complicated development for the government’s efforts to improve relations with Japan. Speaking at a news conference, he gave no details of any possible diplomatic efforts.

Motegi called South Korea an important neighbor and said its co-operation with Japan and the United States was essential to regional security, including in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Japan, under a 1995 Asian Women’s Semi-Governmental Fund, offered payments and apologies to certified victims of its wartime sexual abuse by five countries, resolving disputes with everyone except South Korea. Sixty-one South Korean victims received 5 million yen ($ 48,200) each from the 367 million yen ($ 3.5 million) fund, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, but many others refused to accept the money.

In 2015, the then governments of South Korea and Japan reached what was supposed to be a final and irreversible agreement to resolve the issue with a new 1 billion yen ($ 9 million) fund set up by the Japanese government, but the administration The current Moon disbanded it, saying the deal was reached without proper consultation with the victims.

In what appeared to be a change in tone, Moon said Monday that South Korea recognizes the 2015 deal as a legitimate deal that should provide a foundation for finding a better solution that would satisfy the victims. He gave no details.

Japanese Deputy Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said his government took note of the comments Monday. Japan is still calling for proper steps from South Korea as it considers all possible options, he said.

We will look at what actions will be taken by the South Korean side, Sakai said.

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