SEOUL, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Japan has decided to appeal to an international court over the South Korean top court's ruling that orders a Japanese steel company to compensate South Korean workers for forced labor and unpaid wages, Japanese media reported.
The Japanese government plans to bring the case to the International Court of Justice without consent from the South Korean government, Sankei Shimbun reported.
Taking a case to the ICJ requires consent from two states in a dispute. However, the Japanese government concluded that South Korea would not agree to submit the case and decided to solely raise it. In such case, South Korea is required to explain reasons for not making a joint submission to the court, the report said.
South Korea's Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 30 that Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corp. should pay more than $87,000 (100 million won) to four South Koreans for forced labor and unpaid wages.
The ruling concluded a long-running lawsuit filed by four South Koreans in 2005. Only one of them, 94-year-old Lee Chun-shik, survived to see the court's decision on Oct. 30. Lee said he and his colleagues were forced to work at a Japanese steel factory from 1941 to 1943 during the 1940-45 Japanese colonial rule of Korea.
The Japanese government protested the South Korean court decision, saying victims of forced labor have no right to file a compensation under a 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea. The treaty, under which South Korea agreed to drop its right to demand compensation for damages under the colonial, has been subject to controversies regarding individuals' right for compensation.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said that any compensation issues related to wartime forced labor were settled in the treaty. According to the Sankei Shimbun report, Kono has also been delivering guidelines on explaining illegitimacy of the South Korean court ruling to Japanese embassies abroad.
"We will make sure to deal with it thoroughly this time," a government official said in the Sankei Shimbun report.
The South Korean court rejected Nippon Steel's claim that the treaty settled compensation issues and saw that any anti-humanitarian, illegal acts made during the war were not part of it.
Meanwhile, a group of some 100 Japanese lawyer and law scholars called the Japanese government to recognize its responsibility to resolve the issue of forced labor and help companies admit their human rights violations during World War II and offer apology and compensation to victims.
The lawyers held a press conference on Monday in Tokyo and announced a joint statement on their position on the South Korean court order.
"The issue of forced labor is a human rights issue. We need a resolution that is accepted by the victims and society. Any settlement between countries that victims and society cannot accept is not a true settlement," the joint statement read, according to Yonhap News.
"The Japanese press reports exclude victims' perspectives and Abe's comment wrongly interprets the true meaning behind the court order," said lawyer Shiro Kawakami, according to the report.