S. Korea denies discussing fund related to wartime forced labor with Japan

SEOUL-- South Korea on Monday denied a Japanese report that the two countries are discussing the creation of an economic cooperation fund as a way to resolve their months-long dispute over wartime forced labor.

Japan's Kyodo news agency reported that the purported fund under consideration may involve the South Korean government and companies, as well as Japanese companies. The Japanese government does not plan to chip in money for the fund which would be run under the name of "economic cooperation," not as compensation for forced labor victims, the report said.

South Korea's foreign ministry denied the report, saying no such plans have been discussed during talks between the two nations.

"The Korean government respects the court's ruling and is seeking reasonable measures that victims and the people of the two nations can accept," a senior ministry official said, asking not to be named. "We have been talking with Japanese counterparts under this principle."

Last year, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula. The order is based on the court's recognition of victims' individual rights to claim damages.

Tokyo argues that all reparation issues stemming from the colonial rule were settled under a 1965 state-to-state treaty aimed at normalizing bilateral relations. Based on that, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has claimed that Seoul should keep a "state-to-state" promise.

Seoul has made a proposal that South Korean and Japanese firms jointly form a fund to compensate victims, but Tokyo rejected it based on its position that a deal should not do any harm to Japanese firms.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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