Japan and South Korea hold talks on forced labor during war
TOKYO, January 16, RIA Novosti. Japan and the Republic of Korea exchanged views on a new plan to deal with forced labor in Japanese factories during the war amid the threat of “cashing” Japanese assets in South Korea, NHK reported.
High-level officials at the level of heads of departments of the foreign ministries of the two countries held talks in Tokyo. Their contents were not disclosed, but they were reserved by South Korea in a new offer to pay former workers of Japanese businesses, according to the channel. The plan is for them to be paid from a fund under the South Korean government instead of Japan.
Even with Japan’s consent, the plan may face resistance within the sentimental South Korean community to demand an apology and compensation from Japan, according to the TV channel.
At the end of 2018, a South Korean court ordered Japanese companies Nihon Steel, Fujikoshi Corporation, and Mitsui Havy Industries, which used forced labor in Korea during World War II, to pay compensation to the victims. However, Japan believes that all compensation had already been paid to South Korea in 1965, hoping that the South Korean government would send some of the $500 million paid to South Korea as compensation for damage done during the war years, as personal compensation to the victims. . But this did not happen, the victims received almost nothing, and government funds diverted to the development of the economy and infrastructure. Victims continue to seek their rights in the courts, but Japan believes that the plaintiff should be the South Korean government, not Japanese companies.
Thus, in 2018, no compensation was paid by court decision and the assets of these companies in South Korea were arrested by court decision. At present, preparations are being made for the so-called “capitalization” of these assets, that is, their confiscation and sale. In this case, it will be difficult for the relations between the two countries to return to their former level.
However, with the coming to power of President Yoon Seok-yeol’s administration, attempts to normalize relations became noticeable. Last summer, a South Korean foreign minister’s first visit to Japan since 2019 took place. Last week, South Korea made a new plan to resolve the controversial issue, after which consultations began between the two countries.
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