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  • <W commentary> Former forced labor lawsuit, 400M won collected by fundraising by South Korean civil society will be paid to some plaintiffs = concerns about "neutralizing" the gov's solution
<W commentary> Former forced labor lawsuit, 400M won collected by fundraising by South Korean civil society will be paid to some plaintiffs = concerns about "neutralizing" the gov's solution
A South Korean civic group has announced that it has paid 400 million won raised through fundraising activities to four plaintiffs who rejected the South Korean government's proposed solution to the former forced labor lawsuit. Citizens' groups have been conducting fundraising activities since the end of June this year, and about 8,000 donations, about 540 million won, have been collected so far.

In October 2018, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered the former employers, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel Corporation (formerly Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation), to pay compensation. However, Japan's position was that the issue of wartime reparations had been settled by the 1965 Japan-Korea Claims Agreement, and the two defendants refused to comply. For this reason, the plaintiff proceeded with the procedure of 'cash' to sell the assets held by the Japanese company in South Korea and use them for compensation.

The issue of forced labor lawsuits is the biggest pending issue between Japan and South Korea, and it has been a long time without any clues to resolve it. The wind changed direction. President Yoon has shown a desire to improve relations between Japan and South Korea since he was a candidate for the presidential election.

And in March this year, the South Korean government announced a 'solution' to the problem. The details are that the "Foundation for Supporting Victims of Japanese Forced Mobilization" under the South Korean government, which supports former forced laborers, will pay late interest on behalf of the defendants Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which were ordered to pay compensation to former forced laborers. The plaintiffs will be paid an amount equivalent to the compensation including. So far, 15 plaintiffs have won their lawsuits in Supreme Court rulings, and the damages are said to be about 4 billion won, including late interest. The lawsuits currently pending will also be dealt with in the same way if the plaintiff's victory is determined. When the South Korean government announced the solution, President Yoon said, "The solution is the result of the government's efforts to find ways to meet the common interests and future development of both Korea and Japan while respecting the position of the victims."

To date, the foundation has paid out one of the surviving plaintiffs and 10 survivors of the 15 successful cases. The amount is expected to be around 200 million won. However, the remaining four plaintiffs and bereaved families refused to receive the money. He continues to persuade the government to accept it.

Under these circumstances, the South Korean civic group "Japanese Forced Mobilized Citizens' Gathering", which supports the plaintiffs of the former forced labor lawsuit, has decided to support the four plaintiffs who have refused to receive it. At the end of June, a fund-raising campaign was started to solicit the amount equivalent to compensation from the public. The group criticized the government's proposed solution, saying, "Without an apology and compensation from the Japanese government and companies, there will be no solution. I will show my will to fight together with the people until the very end in order to protect the dignity and honor of the victims."

On the other hand, the South Korean government has started a deposit procedure to deposit the money paid by the foundation to the court for the four plaintiffs who have refused to receive it. The plaintiff's family objected to this. On July 11th, family members visited the foundation to protest. Due to reasons such as the plaintiff's refusal, courts have successively made decisions to reject the deposit procedure.

In just five days, donations from the Citizens' Gathering for Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Empire reached 132.42 million won. The group claimed that the increasing amount of donations was a sign of public disappointment toward the South Korean government, which had begun the process of making deposits. Although the target amount of 1 billion won has not yet been reached, about 540 million won has been collected so far. The civic group paid 400 million won of this amount to the four plaintiffs, each with 100 million won.

On the other hand, South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo said that if the civic group continues to pay the four men, the amount they receive could be higher than the amount received by the former forced laborers, who immediately accepted the government's solution. However, legal experts point out that there is a risk that the government's plan will be rendered useless as a result.

Published : 2023/08/17 11:19 KST

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