Report: Japanese politicians propose freezing South Korean assets

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Jan. 15 (UPI) — Japan’s ruling party politicians slammed a South Korean court decision on former South Korean “comfort women” and proposed the freezing of South Korean assets in Japan, according to a South Korean press report.

KBS reported Friday that Japanese politicians introduced a resolution calling for “countermeasures” against Seoul, during a joint meeting of Japan’s foreign ministry and the Liberal Democratic Party’s Foreign Affairs Division.

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The Japanese resolution stated that Tokyo should request a “correction” from the Korean government for “violating international law.” The resolution also outlined steps toward the freezing of Korean assets in Japan, or financial sanctions, if the two sides fail to reach an agreement.

Last week, Seoul Central District Court ordered Japan to pay damages of about $90,000 each to 12 former South Korean “comfort women” forced to serve in Japanese wartime brothels.

Japan’s ruling conservatives are against state compensation for victims of Japanese colonial rule. Politicians in the country say a 1965 bilateral agreement covers all reparations, but South Korean activists and survivors say Japan needs to demonstrate fuller accountability.

The South Korean court decision could open a pathway to the seizure of Korea-based Japanese assets.

Masahisa Sato, chief of the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division, said the South Korean ruling last week is “outrageous” and a challenge to Japanese sovereignty.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a press briefing that any Japanese response would not be “retaliation,” because South Korea violated international law, according to KBS.

Activist Yoko Shiba of Japan Action Network for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery told the news service her government response is “wrong,” and that she felt “shame” for their lack of accountability.

Ruling party politicians in Japan have said the comfort women were prostitutes. The statement has angered victims.

In Korea, a sociology professor who made similar allegations during a lecture at Yonsei University defended his claim during his first trial on Friday.

Lew Seok-choon’s claim that the women were paid sex workers provoked public anger after a recording went viral online in 2019.

Lew, who is being charged with defaming victims, claimed Friday what he said at lecture was “not false” during trial, according to the Segye Ilbo.