South Korean Man Dies After Self-Immolation In Front Of Japanese Embassy

South Korean merchants stepping on boxes bearing logos of Japanese brands during a rally to declare a boycott of Japanese goods in Seoul earlier this month

Japan believes its brutal actions during the colonial period were settled in a 1965 treaty normalizing ties between the two countries.

Kono also slammed Seoul as "extremely rude" for continuing to suggest a joint compensation fund for forced labour victims be set up voluntarily by Japanese and South Korean firms.

The dispute between the key US allies took a deadly turn when a South Korean man set himself on fire in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in an apparent protest.

"On Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono summoned South Korean Ambassador Nam Gwan-pyo and lodged a complaint, calling Seoul's rejection of Tokyo's demand for an arbitration panel "very regrettable".

Kono claimed that what South Korea is doing amounts to "overturning the global order since World War II" and demanded Seoul take steps to correct the situation.

"It is problematic that Seoul is leaving the situation of violating the worldwide law as it stands", he said.

A Seoul fire official said a 78-year-old man, surnamed Kim, drove up to the Japanese embassy early on Friday, stopped in front of the entrance and set fire to his auto while in it.

Compensation of South Koreans for labour during Japan's 1910 to 1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula has soured relations between the US's closest Asian allies.

South Korean officials have said that Japan's call for an arbitration panel is unacceptable.

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Japan last month unveiled tough restrictions on exports crucial to South Korean tech titans like Samsung Electronics.

Later, South Korea's foreign ministry rejected Japan's arbitration call as arbitrary and said Japan must remember its wrongs committed during colonial rule and try to heal the wound.

Japan has tightened controls on sensitive high-tech exports to South Korea, a move that could affect South Korean manufacturers, including smartphone companies. He died while being treated at a Seoul hospital, police said.

The Blue House said Japan's claims that South Korea is violating global law are "simply wrong" and urged Tokyo to "withdraw unjustified export restriction measures and refrain from comments and measures that could further exacerbate the situation".

The row appears to have spilled over into Japan and South Korea's trade in high-tech materials used to make memory chips and screens.

Lee Ho-hyeon, a director general at South Korea's trade ministry, said Japan's plan to remove South Korea from its "white list" of countries with minimum trade restrictions should be based on "clear evidence and facts".

Police and fire officials both declined to comment on the man's possible motivations, citing ongoing investigations.

South Korea has called the export restrictions "unjust economic retaliation" and its deputy national security adviser accused Japan of violating global law by imposing them. Japan denies that, saying the controls are required for national security.

On Thursday, President Moon Jae-in and the heads of five major political parties held a rare meeting and agreed on the need for bipartisan efforts to cope with Japan's use of trade as a means of retaliation over the historical issue.

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