Japan protests South Korean Supreme Court

Japan is upset about the South Korean Supreme Court’s decision on who should pay for forced work.

  • TOKYO: On Thursday (Dec. 21), South Korea’s Supreme Court confirmed rulings that two Japanese companies should pay South Koreans who were forced to work during Japan’s occupation from 1910–1945. This decision caused a protest right away in Tokyo.
  • Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, said that the Supreme Court’s decision to support orders for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel Corp to pay victims and their families broke a treaty from 1965.
  • During a normal news conference, Hayashi told the reporters, “This is a clear violation of the Japan-South Korea Claims Agreement. This is very regrettable and completely unacceptable.”
  • The foreign office in Seoul could not be reached right away for comment.
  • Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries both said that the South Korean court’s ruling was “regrettable” and that the issue of South Korean workers was already taken care of by the agreement between Japan and South Korea in 1965 [link].
  • Forced work and sex abuse during the war have made it hard for Japan and South Korea to get along for decades.
  • In March, conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said that former forced labourers would be compensated through a public foundation that was already in place and was supported by private South Korean companies. This was done to make things better with Japan.
  • Yoon’s plan to solve the cases was called “groundbreaking” by US President Joe Biden, but some victims and South Korea’s main opposition party were against it, and the cases have continued.
  • The two cases happened in 2013 and 2014. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel were told to pay 1.17 billion won (US$898,000) to 11 victims or their families.
  • “It’s a significant case that shows a diplomatic compromise between South Korea and Japan won’t make the issue of forced labour go away,” said Kim Yeong-hwan at the Center for Historical Truth and Justice, a civic group helping the forced labour victims.
  • The decision also reaffirms a 2018 ruling acknowledging the former labourers’ right to reparation was not terminated by the 1965 treaty and rejecting Tokyo’s stance, Kim said.
  • Some victims were between 13 and 14 years old when they were made to work at an aircraft factory for eight to ten hours a day without pay in 1944, the group said.
  • All the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit have since died except for one family member, according to the group.
  • The court decision came as senior South Korean and Japanese diplomats were set to hold high-level economic talks in Seoul on Thursday for the first time in eight years in a further effort to improve ties as the countries are drawn closer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *