S. Korea to hold public hearing on wartime forced labor issue next week

SEOUL– South Korea will hold a public hearing next week to discuss ways to resolve the long-standing issue of compensating victims of Japan’s forced labor during World War II, according to officials and representatives of the victims Friday, amid strong opposition by victims to a “proposed” resolution on the matter.

A legal representative for the South Korean wartime forced labor victims and a civic group supporting the victims said they will attend the hearing, co-organized by the Seoul foreign ministry and the South Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union, scheduled to be held at the National Assembly in Seoul next Thursday.

The victims have claimed they were notified by Seoul’s foreign ministry of “what is considered to be a resolution,” which is to compensate them with local corporate donations without the participation and formal apology of such Japanese companies as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. or Nippon Steel Corp.

“We decided it would be better to point out in front of the public and the media the loopholes and misunderstanding of the government’s current stance, as well as its awareness, on the issue,” the group’s attorney told Yonhap News Agency.
A ministry official has said the hearing is part of a process of collecting ideas on the matter and not an occasion for the government to offer a final resolution.

The victims have long demanded an official apology from the Japanese government and asked that the accused Japanese companies contribute in the donation. In 2018, the victims won their legal battle against Japanese companies in a landmark South Korean Supreme Court ruling ordering those firms to pay compensation.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to seek a prompt settlement of the issue during their summit in Cambodia in November last year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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