Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Japanese civic groups supporting former South Korean forced laborers have submitted a request for talks to Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The request for discussions was received at Mitsubishi on Friday, a possible indication the firm could provide an answer by a March 1 deadline, South Korean television network KBS reported.
The group, Nagoya Mitsubishi Korean Women's Volunteer Labor Corps litigation support society, and other groups, submitted the request, Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported Friday.
The Korean Women's Volunteer Labor Corps was part of the larger Women's Volunteer Corps of wartime Japan. The women's corps was created in April 1944 to address labor shortages in the Japanese Empire as armed conflicts escalated during World War II.
Japanese civic activists are seeking an answer on the issue of compensation. If Mitsubishi issues no response, the groups plan to apply for the seizure of the firm's assets, according to the Nikkei.
The activists are taking on a position not endorsed officially in Tokyo.
Following a November landmark court ruling in South Korea, ordering Mitsubishi to compensate 28 South Koreans for forced labor, the Japanese government condemned the outcome and said the decision was "totally unacceptable."
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in November the ruling "overturns the legal basis for friendly ties between Japan and South Korea," a reference to a 1965 treaty between Seoul and Tokyo.
Japanese activists disagree and support South Korean plaintiffs, according to KBS.
"Teenage girls, ages 13 and 14, were tricked into coming to Japan" to perform forced labor, one activist told the South Korean network on Friday.
The group has staged protests more than 450 times in Tokyo and has worked for a decade to resolve the issue.
The forced laborers worked without pay at a wartime Mitsubishi airplane factory for 17 months, the activists said.