Disputes over forced labor in Japanese military brothels have strained relations between the two key US allies for years, but South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has attempted to mend the relationship.
Under the plan, South Korea will pay former forced laborers through a public foundation supported by local agencies, Foreign Minister Park Jin said during a press conference. When Seoul first introduced the plan in January, it drew backlash from victims and their families because it did not include donations from Japanese companies, including those convicted in South Korean courts.
A dozen protesters demonstrated outside when Park made the announcement. “It is a complete victory for Japan, which has said it will not pay a single yen in the enforcement case,” Lim Jae-sung, a lawyer for many of the victims, said in a Facebook post on Sunday. agreement. . South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing unnamed government sources, said that as part of the agreement, Seoul and Tokyo have agreed soon to establish a ‘future fund’. to support scholarships from corporate funds from both countries. Park said that he believes that the Japanese government will not prevent Japanese companies from making voluntary donations.
Relations fell to their lowest level in decades after South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation for former forced laborers. Fifteen South Koreans have won similar cases, but none have been paid.
The dispute led to a trade dispute. Japan argued that the issue of reparations had been settled under previous agreements.
Earlier on Monday, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told lawmakers continuing the parliamentary debate that it was not appropriate to talk about details. A Japanese government source close to Kishida told reporters that the United States had forced the two countries to remain united, but that one of the main factors driving Yoon’s push for peace was the geopolitical threat from North Korea.