Go to contents

Japan favorably considers ‘1+1+α’ initiative

Posted November. 28, 2019 07:36,   

Updated November. 29, 2019 15:00


Amidst continuing disputes between South Korea and Japan after the extension of the GSOMIA, it has been reported that Japan is positively considering the ‘‘1+1+α” approach proposed by South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang to resolve the issue of Japan’s forced conscription of Koreans during colonial rule. Also dubbed as the Moon Hee-sang Initiative, the idea proposes to voluntarily raise funds from businesses and people from both countries. How the top-down approach will be addressed in the bilateral summit next month is drawing much attention.

According to a diplomatic source on Wednesday, a lawmaker associated with the Korea-Japan Legislature Association visited Korea and met with Speaker Moon for dinner on Tuesday, mentioning that the Japanese government is favorably considering the plan and advised to move the bill. The gesture can be seen as Japan’s willingness to resolve the issue regardless of the tensions between the two countries on the extension of the GSOMIA. This is also reflected in a Mainichi Shimbun column by which says that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that it would be desirable if legislative measures are in place before execution is carried out on forced labor in accordance with the Court’s ruling, expressing understanding on Moon’s proposal and directed secretarial officials to share information with the Korean Embassy.

Speaker Moon has been known to prepare a bill that proposes to raise funds from businesses and people from both Korea and Japan to compensate victims of forced conscription and sexual slavery during colonial rule under three keywords of remember, reconcile and future. The basic idea is that Japanese companies would be relieved from compensation liabilities if they offer compensation to victims. Moon has reportedly gained support on the bill and participation on fund-raising from lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties. He is planning to table the bill in the form of a Special Act next month.

“There are important tasks that should be discussed between the two countries. Adjusting the meeting is only natural and circumstances are coming together, said Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi at an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun.

There are some support groups for victims that are against the idea claiming that the initiative might exempt Japan from apologies or accountability, suggesting that winning their support may be challenging. Some are considering excluding the remaining balance of 6 billion won from the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation, which was disbanded in July, to use for a separate purpose.

Hyung-Jun Hwang constant25@donga.com · Ji-Hyun Kim jhk85@donga.com