Former Japanese PM pays respects to Korean victims of forced labor

SEOUL/BUSAN-- Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Saturday paid tribute to the Koreans engaged in forced labor during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

On the second day of his two-day visit to South Korea, Hatoyama visited the National Memorial Museum of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Occupation in South Korea's southern port city of Busan.

Hatoyama served as prime minister from 2009-2010.

"Around 8 million Koreans were mobilized into forced labor, and suffered as soldiers and workers, with some of them even losing their lives," Hatoyama said, claiming he visited the venue to face the truth.

The former prime minister expressed hope that more Japanese people would visit the site and learn more about that period of history.

A day earlier, Hatoyama delivered a lecture at Pusan National University in the city and claimed that Japan should continue making apologies until the victims accept them.

Hatoyama also said that issues surrounding Korean victims' right to seek compensation are not settled -- regardless of the 1965 accord that normalized bilateral ties.

The Japanese government claims that all compensation was settled when the two countries normalized their diplomatic ties in 1965, although a South Korean court ruled that individual rights to seek compensation are still valid.

Following the ruling that ordered Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of wartime forced labor, Tokyo announced economic retaliation against South Korea that started in July.

The dispute is currently under a settlement process at the World Trade Organization.

In 2015, Hatoyama visited Seodaemun Prison in Seoul, a symbol of Japan's oppression and atrocities during its colonial rule where independence fighters were imprisoned and tortured. He knelt down in front of a monument for victims and expressed an apology.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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