Japan to take countermeasures over South Korean inaction on wartime workers case

Rescue workers place a man who had set himself on fire in an apparent protest onto a stretcher after taking him out of his burnt car in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul

In South Korea, where nearly seven in 10 people report negative feelings toward the country's former colonial ruler, the spat has even led beer-lovers to boycott Japanese brews.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton will make a two-day visit to South Korea from Tuesday to discuss the Korean Peninsula situations, the presidential Blue House of South Korea said Sunday.

South Korea plans to raise the issue at a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Geneva later this week.

Tensions escalated Friday as a South Korean man in his 70s died after setting himself on fire outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and Japanese foreign minister summoned the South Korean ambassador in Tokyo over the dispute.

"We strongly demand the South Korean government to immediately take corrective measures", Kono said in a visibly tense meeting with the envoy.

Tokyo says the move was made necessary by a "loss of trust" in relations with Seoul, but also accuses South Korea of improperly handling exports of sensitive materials from Japan.

Relations between the American allies have always been strained over issues related to Tokyo's brutal 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula. "It is extremely impertinent to propose it again by pretending to not know that".

Japan is "trying to destroy the trend of peace on the Korean Peninsula by putting pressure upon South Korea through the restrictions", reported the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday night, describing Japan as its "sworn enemy".

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Neither official specified what that plan was, but last month Japan rejected a South Korean proposal to form a joint fund to compensate South Korean plaintiffs.

However, Seoul dropped the request saying the issue should be "resolved through diplomatic talks, rather than a dispute settlement process".

The man, identified only by the surname Kim, drove his auto onto the sidewalk in front of the entrance of the embassy building and ignited a fire inside his vehicle around 3.24 a.m., suffering burns all over his body, said the police.

The man's father-in-law was said to have been a victim of forced labour during World War Two and the man may have acted in protest against Japan's export curbs, media said, citing police.

Many South Koreans are boycotting Japanese products and services, from beer to clothes and travel, disrupting businesses already grappling with the worst economic conditions in a decade.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said Japan's actions are politically motivated and have caused an "unprecedented emergency" for his country's export-driven economy.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics has sent letters to partners urging them to stockpile more Japanese components in case Tokyo widens its export curbs.

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