Japan urged South Korea during a senior officials' videoconference Friday to take action over a recent court ruling in Seoul that ordered the Japanese government to pay damages to former "comfort women," the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Japan is angered by the Seoul Central District Court ruling over the Korean women who worked at Japanese military brothels, calling it a violation of sovereign immunity under international law that allows a state to be shielded against the jurisdiction of foreign courts.
Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan's Foreign Ministry, requested his South Korean counterpart Kim Jung Han ensure that the South Korean government will take "appropriate action to correct the violation of international law," the ministry said.
Kim responded by explaining South Korea's stance, a Japanese ministry official said, without providing further details. A South Korean government spokesman has said Seoul respects the court's decision.
Japan asserts the ruling violates a 1965 bilateral agreement that settled compensation issues related to its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and an accord reached by the two countries in 2015 to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the comfort women issue.
Earlier Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi reiterated that Japan is contemplating "various options" in response to the ruling.
"We will decide on the most effective measure that will induce a forward-looking response from South Korea, while continuing diplomatic exchanges," Motegi told a press conference.
Government sources said Thursday that Japan may delay sending its new ambassador Koichi Aiboshi to South Korea, though it was cautious about adopting an option of taking Seoul to the International Court of Justice.
Japan said it will not appeal the ruling as doing so would mean it falls under South Korea's jurisdiction. The deadline for the appeal is set on Jan. 22.
The Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 8 ordered the Japanese government to pay 100 million won ($91,000) in damages to each of 12 former comfort women. It also granted a provisional execution of the compensation order, making it possible to seize Japanese government assets.
The relationship between the two neighbors had been at its lowest point in decades even before the ruling, over a wartime labor row and trade.