S. Korea top court orders Japan firm to compensate for forced labor

South Korea’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling from several years ago that ordered a Japanese steel firm to compensate four South Koreans who were victims of forced labor during Japanese colonial rule.

Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. lodged an appeal in August 2013 after the Seoul High Court had the previous month ordered it to pay 400 million won ($ 350,000) in compensation to the workers, only one of whom remains alive.

(Labor group members and police officers square off near the Japanese Consulate General in Busan, South Korea, on May 1, 2018, over the erection of a statue symbolizing Korean forced workers taken to Japan during its 1910-1945 colonial rule)

Tuesday’s final ruling is likely to have an enormous impact on Japanese-South Korean ties, politically and economically, as Japanese firms involved in similar lawsuits could face similar outcomes.

The four victims said they were deprived of their human rights when they were forced to work at a steel mill that belonged to Japan Iron & Steel Co., which was later known as Nippon Steel Corp. until it merged with another steelmaker in 2012 to form Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal.

South Korea was colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945.

Regarding the earlier court ruling, the Japanese government stated at the time that the issue of compensation had been solved «completely and finally» under a 1965 bilateral treaty signed between Japan and South Korea.

All — Kyodo News+

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