The Latest: Japan urges South Korea to agree to arbitration

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on trade and political disputes between Japan and South Korea (all times local):

6 p.m.

Japan is making a final call for South Korea to agree to Japanese-requested arbitration over the Korean wartime labor dispute, while hinting at possible retaliation.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura on Wednesday urged Seoul to nullify court orders for Japanese companies to compensate former Korean wartime labors and settle by arbitration.

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Colonial-era Korean laborers are seeking a court approval for the sales of local assets held by their wartime employer Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, which has ignored a court’s compensation order.

Tokyo has requested arbitration of the dispute as stipulated in a 1965 treaty. The deadline for a response is Thursday.

Nishimura said Japan will consider all options to protect Japanese companies.

Ties between the countries worsened after Japan tightened controls on high-tech exports to South Korea.

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3 p.m.

South Korea says the United States fully understands the seriousness of Seoul’s growing trade dispute with Tokyo.

Senior presidential official Kim Hyun-chong made the comments Wednesday after meeting with David Stilwell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia policy, in Seoul.

Kim says he told Stilwell about Seoul’s position on the trade dispute and that the U.S. diplomat “sufficiently understood the seriousness of this problem.”

South Korea and Japan are key U.S. allies that host a total of about 80,000 American troops. But the Asian neighbors have become embroiled in diplomatic fights after Japan tightened controls on high-tech exports to South Korea.

South Korea’s foreign minister last week discussed the trade issue with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone.

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