Man sets himself on fire outside Japanese embassy in Seoul

Japan-South Korea Dispute Spurs Worries of'Never Seen Before Chip Price Spike

Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned a top South Korean diplomat on July 19 to express his frustration after Seoul ignored a deadline to help establish an arbitration panel to deal with the compensation issue for wartime workers.

Kono also slammed Seoul as "extremely rude" for continuing to suggest a joint compensation fund for forced labour victims be set up voluntarily by Japanese and South Korean firms.

Tokyo's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said the Japanese government will wait until 12 o-clock midnight and he claimed that Seoul has to answer Tokyo's request according to their 1965 bilateral agreement, which stipulates how to settle the issue of wartime forced labor.

Japan's official position regarding its former colony maintain that a 1965 agreement resolved the issue of damages.

Japan Friday blasted South Korea's denial to go for a third-party mediation over wartime compensation issue, local media reported.

The man's self-immolation comes as ties between Seoul and Tokyo have plunged to their lowest point in decades since Japan recently tightened export controls of some high-tech materials.

The plaintiffs said the laborers were forcibly brought to Japan to work at plants when the Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule.

South Korea has rejected third-country arbitration and Kono said Seoul must take swift measures to correct what Japan says was an improper ruling previous year by South Korea's Supreme Court ordering two Japanese firms to compensate the wartime workers.

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South Korea denied that and responded by suggesting Japan had been lax in abiding by global sanctions against North Korea.

Seoul's defense ministry said Friday that Seoul's current stance is to keep the GSOMIA, and that it is looking at the pact from the standpoint of "its utility and security cooperation" with Tokyo.

Relations between the American allies have always been strained over issues related to Tokyo's brutal 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.

Earlier this month, Tokyo announced restrictions on the export of several chemicals to Seoul's chip-making giants, in a move South Korean officials described as retaliation for the compensation rulings.

"South Korean government's position is that we have not even gone through the diplomatic resolution, or at least we have to attempt to resolve the disputes or differences through diplomatic avenue".

Japan's foreign minister on Friday summoned South Korea's ambassador and accused Seoul of violating global law by refusing to join in an arbitration panel to settle a dispute over forced labour during the Second World War.

Police say the man in his 70s ignited a fire inside his vehicle parked in front of a building where the Japanese Embassy is housed on Friday.

Its removal from the list would require Japanese companies to apply for case-by-case approvals for exports to South Korea of hundreds of items deemed sensitive, not just the three materials affected by the trade curbs that took effect July 4.

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