Go to contents

Seoul-Tokyo business federations to raise funds for forced labor victims

Seoul-Tokyo business federations to raise funds for forced labor victims

Posted March. 06, 2023 07:39,   

Updated March. 06, 2023 07:39


It was reported that the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and the Japan Business Federation (JBF) decided to raise a fund tentatively named ‘future youth fund’ as a solution for compensation for the forced labor victims of the Japanese colonial period. The South Korean and Japanese governments shared the understanding that the Japanese defendant companies responsible for compensation – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel – should participate in the fund.

The South Korean government will announce a solution for compensation for the forced labor victims on Monday. It includes reimbursement by third parties in which the Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization by Imperial Japan under the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (the Foundation) compensates the victims by utilizing a fund donated by 16 South Korean companies that benefitted from the Claims Settlement Agreement between Korea and Japan, including POSCO. A government source said that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida would make a statement to continue its current stance of deep regret for its colonization once the South Korean government announces the solution.

According to research by the Dong-A Ilbo on Sunday, a solution for the issues of defendant companies’ participation in compensation, which was the key issue between the two countries, will be that the defendant companies will participate in the future youth fund. “We are discussing how the business circles of South Korea and Japan can contribute to the youths and future generations of the two countries so that they can open a new chapter for the bilateral relationship, as well as what potential can be accumulated,” Kim Seong-han, the head of the National Security Office of the Presidential Office, said before he flew to the U.S. on Sunday.

The solution was developed in response to the Japanese government's stance that the defendant companies cannot participate in compensation through the Foundation since the forced labor issues were resolved with the 1965 Claims Settlement Agreement between Korea and Japan. “It is a solution that made compromises between South Korea’s stance of insisting the defendant companies pay compensation and Japan’s stance of refusing payment through the Foundation,” said a government source.

However, some may raise an issue with if the method of the defendant companies making an ‘indirect contribution’ through the future youth fund, instead of the Foundation, fits the purpose of compensation requested by the victims. The two governments are discussing an option where other companies in Japan, including large ones, that share the need to foster a positive relationship between the two countries will voluntarily participate in not only the joint fund raised by the business circles of the two countries but also the fund raised by the Foundation.

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com · Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com