South Korea’s Yoon willing to seek early resolution on wartime workers

AP file photo
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol

SEOUL — South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in an interview published Monday expressed his willingness to seek an early resolution of the issue of former wartime requisitioned workers with Japan.

“We will resolve the issue by listening to opinions from all quarters. I see the situation positively,” Yoon said in an interview with South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

“Japan maintains its hardline stance on the issue, but seems to believe that it will be possible to resolve the matter as long as the liquidation of Japanese corporate assets in regard to wartime requisitioned workers is sorted out,” Yoon said.

The issue has remained a major concern for both countries, and Yoon has expressed optimism about new possibilities once the matter is resolved. “It will open the door to the normalization of South Korea-Japan relations in many areas through an exchange of visits between both countries’ leaders,” he said.

In 2018, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to former requisitioned workers. Currently, preparations are underway to liquidate the assets held by the Japanese companies in South Korea.

The South Korean government is considering the idea of a government-affiliated foundation shouldering the cost of compensation for the Japanese firms, but the plaintiffs are demanding compensation and an apology from the corporate defendants, and are thus strongly opposed to the idea.