South Korea-Japan diplomatic row deepens

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (L) met South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan Pyo in Tokyo on trade.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (L) met South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan Pyo in Tokyo on trade.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has summoned and admonished South Korea's ambassador in a deepening diplomatic row over compensation for Korean wartime forced labour that threatens global supply of memory chips and display screens.

The dispute took a tragic turn earlier on Friday when a South Korean man set himself on fire in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul about 3.20am in an apparent protest and later died from his injuries.

South Korea's ambassador to Japan, Nam Gwan-pyo, was summoned to meet Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono a day after a midnight deadline set by Japan for South Korea to accept third-country arbitration of the forced labour dispute passed.

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

Japan says the issue of compensation was settled under a 1965 treaty which established diplomatic relations between the two nations post World War II.

Later, South Korea's foreign ministry rejected Japan's call for third-party arbitration and said Japan must instead remember the wrongs it committed during colonial rule and make efforts to heal the wound.

South Korea's Trade Ministry on Friday repeated calls for Japan to hold serious talks by July 24 over Tokyo's tighter export controls of high-tech materials to South Korean chipmaking giants imposed early this month.

A fire official said the South Korean man who set himself alight outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul died later on Friday at hospital from his injuries.

The 78-year-old man's father-in-law was said to be a victim of forced labour by Japanese firms during World War II.

Australian Associated Press