Local civic groups staged a protest on Saturday, calling for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to end Tokyo's economic retaliation against South Korea and apologize for its wartime forced labor.
Around two thousand protesters from activists groups, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, gathered in central Seoul to hold a candlelight vigil, chanting slogans such as "No Abe" and "Abe regime should end distortion of history and economy."
The protest came as Japan declared a trade war against South Korea starting in July, which came in apparent response to Seoul's Supreme Court rulings against Japanese firms from last year over wartime forced labor.
The court recognized that victims' individual rights to seek compensation are still valid, but Tokyo claims all reparation issues stemming from its colonial occupation of the peninsula were settled under a 1965 treaty aimed at normalizing bilateral relations.
The growing trade row has been triggering a boycott of Japanese products among consumers here, with the number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan also tumbling more than 7 percent in July from a year earlier