South Korea plan will help ‘restore healthy ties’: Japan FM

TOKYO: Tokyo on Monday welcomed a South Korean plan to compensate victims of Japanese slave labor during the war, saying it would help restore “healthy” ties after years of tensions.

“The Japanese government appreciates the measures announced today by the South Korean government as an attempt to restore healthy relations between Japan and South Korea after they got into a very difficult situation due to the 2018 ruling,” Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

In 2018, the Seoul Supreme Court ordered some Japanese companies to pay compensation for forced labor, but South Korea is now hoping for “voluntary contributions” from Japanese companies.

According to data from Seoul, some 780,000 Koreans were conscripted into forced labor during Japan’s 35-year occupation, not counting women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese forces.

The plan, announced by Seoul on Monday, would have a South Korean foundation compensate victims and their families, mostly with money from South Korean companies that benefited from Japan’s 1965 reparations package.

Japan is expected to announce the lifting of some trade restrictions imposed on South Korea during deteriorating ties in recent years, although Hayashi insisted the issue is separate from the compensation plan.

South Korea and Japan are both key regional security allies of the United States, but bilateral relations have long been strained by Tokyo’s brutal colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Washington has tried to bring the countries together, and cooperation has increased since the election of South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol last year.

Japanese media have reported that Yoon may be visiting Tokyo soon, possibly even for a Japan-South Korea baseball game this week.

Hayashi urged both countries to “work together in addressing various challenges in the international community.”

The plan announced by Seoul does not include a new apology from Japan, and Hayashi reiterated that the Tokyo government stands by a 1998 statement that included an apology. South Korea plan will help ‘restore healthy ties’: Japan FM

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