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  • <W Commentary> About 60% of South Koreans oppose the solution to the former forced labor lawsuit presented by the South Korean government = the dichotomy of public opinion is highlighted
<W Commentary> About 60% of South Koreans oppose the solution to the former forced labor lawsuit presented by the South Korean government = the dichotomy of public opinion is highlighted
Gallup, a South Korean polling agency, released the results of a survey on the 10th that asked whether the South Korean government announced on the 6th of this month a solution to the former forced labor lawsuit. About 60% of respondents opposed the proposal, and more than 60% said that there was no need to rush to improve relations with Japan. Opinions are split on President Yoon Seo-gyul's stance toward improving relations with Japan.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea (equivalent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Park Jin, held a press conference on the 6th, regarding the issue of the forced labor lawsuit, the defendant's Japanese company's compensation, which was finalized by the Korean Supreme Court. A Korean foundation announced a solution to take over. Park said that Japan-South Korea cooperation is extremely important in all areas, including the economy and security. "I hope that Japan will work together to overcome the unfortunate history of the past and develop a future-oriented relationship based on reconciliation, good-neighborly friendship and cooperation," he said.

In October 2018, the South Korean Supreme Court ordered the employers, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel (former Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation), to compensate for the forced labor lawsuit. However, the two defendants refused to fulfill the 1965 Claims Agreement between Japan and South Korea, as Japan had already settled the wartime reparations issue. For this reason, the plaintiffs were proceeding with the procedure of "cash" to sell the assets owned by the Japanese company in South Korea and use them for compensation.

In the "solution" announced by the Korean government on the 6th, the "Japanese Forced Mobilization Victim Support Foundation" under the Korean government, which supports former forced laborers, will pay the plaintiffs an amount equivalent to compensation including delayed interest. . The funds were to be covered by "voluntary donations" from companies, including POSCO, a major Korean steel company that benefited from Japan's economic cooperation based on the 1965 Japan-Korea Claims and Economic Cooperation Agreement, and the Korea Highway Corporation. , Korea Railroad Corporation, and Korea Electric Power Corporation. On the other hand, it does not presuppose that the defendant's Japanese company will contribute funds. 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. If the plaintiff wins the lawsuit, the lawsuit currently pending will be dealt with in the same way.

Regarding the solution, President Yoon emphasized, "It is the result of the government's efforts to find ways to meet the common interests and future development of both South Korea and Japan while respecting the position of the victims." The solution has been praised by Japanese politicians as well. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, "I appreciate this as a way to restore healthy relations between Japan and South Korea." In addition, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, "The Kishida administration as a whole has inherited and will continue to inherit the position of the successive cabinets regarding the perception of history in Japan-South Korea relations," successive cabinets and others have shown. He expressed the inheritance of "remorse and apology" for colonial rule.

On the other hand, the plaintiff's support group said, "It effectively nullifies the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that recognized the illegality of colonial rule and the liability of war criminal companies to compensate for the inhumane illegal acts." strongly repulsed. In addition, the plaintiff's lawyers held a press conference on the 6th, and while the plaintiffs who agreed with the government's solution will proceed with the procedure for extinguishing their claims, the plaintiffs who do not agree will be forced to take the assets of Japanese companies in South Korea. He said that he will continue to push forward with cashing.

According to South Korea's public broadcaster KBS, three of the plaintiffs have said they will not receive the compensation paid by the South Korean government-affiliated foundation on behalf of the defendant's Japanese company, while the bereaved families of four have indicated their intention to accept it.

Gallup Korea announced the results of the poll conducted on the 8th and 9th. When asked about a solution, 35% said they were in favor for the sake of South Korea-Japan relations and national interests, while 59% said they were opposed without Japan's apology and compensation. Many respondents, excluding ruling party supporters, were said to be predominantly opposed. Also, when asked about relations with Japan, 31% said, "Even if we make some concessions, we should improve as soon as possible."

The Yoon administration would like to accelerate the improvement of Japan-South Korea relations at once, but it is likely that difficult steering will continue in the future as negative public opinion spreads.

Published : 2023/03/20 13:28 KST

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