S. Korea proposes fund for wartime compensation

Reuters file photo
Lee Choon-shik, a former requisitioned worker during the Japanese colonial period, is wheeled in a march during an anti-Japan protest on Liberation Day in Seoul on Aug. 15, 2019. The banner reads “Apologize for forced labour and fulfill the compensation.”

SEOUL (Jiji Press) — South Korea’s Foreign Ministry has proposed that a foundation funded by South Korean companies pay compensation on behalf of Japanese companies to people requisitioned to work during World War II, a lawyer for South Korea plaintiffs in compensation lawsuits said Monday.

At a press conference in Seoul, the lawyer said that the ministry had presented the plan as a major option to resolve the wartime labor issue between Japan and South Korea.

The administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has sought to resolve the issue swiftly in order to improve ties with Japan.

But the plaintiff side slammed the plan, which does not involve payments or apologies from Japanese firms, as a diplomatic defeat.

The South Korean Supreme Court has ruled that Japanese companies must pay compensation to wartime laborers, while Seoul has called on the firms to donate to the foundation and apologize for past actions.

But the Japanese government has maintained its position that the issue of wartime claims was resolved with the 1965 bilateral agreement on property and claims.

According to the plaintiffs, the South Korean Foreign Ministry proposed that the Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization by Imperial Japan, funded by donations from steelmaking giant Posco and others, should shoulder the compensation to wartime laborers.

The ministry told the plaintiffs that it hopes Japanese companies will voluntarily provide funds to the foundation.