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Japan’s Nippon Steel to Appeal S. Korean Court Order to Seize Assets

South Korean Lee Chun-sik, center, a 94-year-old victim of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before the end of World War II, sits on a wheelchair upon his arrival outside the Supreme Court in Seoul, S. Korea, Oct. 30, 2018.

Japan’s Nippon Steel says it will appeal a ruling by South Korea’s highest court for the seizure of its assets to compensate four South Koreans who were forced into labor during Japan’s brutal colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

The Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2018 ordering Nippon to pay $38,000 to the four South Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories during World War Two. An earlier court ruling froze more than 80,000 shares of a joint venture between Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and South Korean steelmaker POSCO.

The decision angered Tokyo, claiming the issue of compensation for Korean forced laborers was settled by the 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations between the Asian neighbors. The treaty included $800 million in reparations paid by Japan in the form of economic aid and loans.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government responded to the court ruling by removing Seoul from its list of preferred trading partners, which allowed for the quick approval of critical products used by South Korean electronics manufacturers.

South Korea removed Japan from its list of preferred trading partners in return.

Japan's 35-year colonial occupation has left a bitter legacy among South Koreans, with hundreds of thousands subjected to numerous atrocities, including the so-called "comfort women" who were forced into sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels.