Seoul, Mar 6 (EFE).- The South Korean government introduced on Monday a plan to compensate 15 people subjected to forced labor by Japanese companies during World War II.
The move, however, has sparked criticism from several of the victims and their families as it seeks financing from South Korean firms and not Japanese entities.
The proposal, announced by Foreign Minister Park Jin, seeks to resolve one of the disputes that weighs most heavily on the relations of both countries.
The plan seeks to compensate 15 Korean citizens who won lawsuits in 2018 against Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi’s heavy industry division, for being subjected to forced labor in the early 1940s, under Japanese colonial rule.
The Japanese government led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed Seoul’s plan, and underlined that it will continue to apologize for the ordeal suffered by those affected.
Kishida, addressing a parliamentary session, underlined that this development would contribute towards healthy relations between Tokyo and Seoul.
The plan designed by the government of conservative Yoon Suk-yeol seeks to collect “voluntary” donations from South Korean companies, particularly firms like steel giant Posco.
Posco was one of the main beneficiaries of a $300 million aid package that Tokyo offered to Seoul to compensate victims of Japanese colonization as part of the bilateral relations agreement signed in 1965.
The Japanese authorities maintain that all compensation in this regard was resolved based on this bilateral treaty.
Several victims or their families have expressed their opposition to the plan, which in principle exempts the two Japanese companies involved from apologizing or compensating them directly.
The two countries have held several rounds of talks on the issue in recent months under the Yoon government, which came to power last year.
Foreign Minister Park on Monday expressed hope that the two countries will respect a 1998 joint declaration, in which the then South Korean and Japanese leaders, Kim Dae-jung and Keizo Obuchi, respectively, called for looking beyond the differences of the past to build a relationship for the future.
In the statement, Obuchi had expressed regret and apologized for the pain caused by Japan’s colonization of the peninsula between 1010 and 1945. EFE