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Ambassador to Japan proposes ways to settle forced labor issue

Ambassador to Japan proposes ways to settle forced labor issue

Posted December. 03, 2020 08:01,   

Updated December. 03, 2020 08:01


Newly appointed South Korean ambassador to Japan Kang Chang-il, a former lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Korea, set out a solution to settle the dispute over wartime forced labor, proposing that the South Korean government compensate the victims first and demand the Japanese company in question to reimburse the payment made afterwards.

Speaking to Japanese media outlets, including Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun, in Seoul on Wednesday, Mr. Kang said the two countries should find a solution that justifies the cause of both sides and there are several ways to do so. The proposed solutions include the Korean government taking over the receivables from the plaintiffs in order to prevent the Japanese company from liquidating local assets or Korean businesses, which benefited from the 1964 treaty between South Korea and Japan, making payments in the form of subrogation.

These solutions have been proposed by experts but have not been mentioned by the South Korean government. Seoul is maintaining the stance that the Japanese company should make compensation to the victims according to the ruling made by the South Korean Supreme Court. In a phone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo on Wednesday, Kang said he just introduced some of many ideas generated from the South Korean side.

During his meeting with the Japanese media outlets, Kang also clarified his comments about the Kuril Islands made in the past. When asked why he referred to the disputed islands of Kuril as “Russian territory” while visiting there in May 2011, Kang said he meant the islands had been occupied by Russia and his intention was not delivered correctly. However, critics say it is not appropriate to keep making comments about territorial disputes between foreign countries.

lovesong@donga.com · minwoo@donga.com