Opposition leader accuses gov’t of ‘subservient’ diplomacy toward Japan

SEOUL-- Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung accused the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol of "submissive and subservient" diplomacy toward Japan after it proposed compensating victims of Japan's wartime forced labor with money from South Korean firms without the participation of Japanese companies.

The government unveiled the proposal last week in an effort to patch up long-strained relations with Japan, but the idea drew strong criticism from forced labor victims, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and other critics.

"The Yoon Suk Yeol administration's submissive and subservient diplomacy toward Japan is getting increasingly intriguing," DP Chairman Lee said during a forum on diplomacy toward Japan. "The government should immediately halt the self-harming diplomacy."

Seoul's proposal calls for creating a fund from donations of South Korean companies to compensate victims without the participation and formal apologies of the accused Japanese firms, such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corp.

"The victims of forced labor call on Japan to deliver an earnest apology and take responsibility, and cannot understand the government's attitude that is against its people and the history, and is far from the common sense of the public," Lee said.

"It is difficult to resolve history issues with Japan if the government continues to act as if it can give everything to improve the relationship," he said.

Seoul-Tokyo relations have frayed badly since Japan imposed export curbs against South Korea in 2019 in retaliation against South Korean Supreme Court rulings that Japanese firms should pay compensation to forced labor victims.

Japan has claimed all reparation issues stemming from its 1910-45 colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula were settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized relations between the two countries and urged the South to come up with acceptable solutions.

During Monday's forum, Lee Gook-eon, head of a civic group supporting the forced labor victims, asked the DP to push to dismiss Foreign Minister Park Jin over the government's compensation plan.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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