Photo/Illutration Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japan has protested a South Korean court order on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to sell assets in order to pay compensation to two women subjected to forced labor for the company during Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula during 1910-1945. Foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday that the ruling a day earlier by the Daejeon District Court in South Korea was a “clear violation of international law.” “We must avoid serious impacts on Japan-South Korea relations,” Motegi said, describing the court’s decision as “truly regrettable” during a regular news conference in Tokyo.

Relations between the two countries, both important U.S. allies in North Asia, have been dogged by the bitter legacy of Japan’s wartime occupation, and ties soured in 2019 due to a dispute over export controls which has yet to be resolved.

The Daejeon District Court in South Korea ruled on Monday that Mitsubishi Heavy should sell two patents and two trademarks, according to a support group for the women, who are both in their nineties.

The compensation for each woman was estimated at around 210 million won ($178,023), according to the Victims of Japanese Wartime Forced Labor support group.

The Daejeon court and Mitsubishi Heavy were not immediately available for comment requested by Reuters.