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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

South Korea to pay victims of Japan’s forced labor

Mar 06, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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South Korea announced it will provide compensation to victims who were forced to work while the country was under Japanese rule. It’s an attempt to heal an old wound that goes back more than 100 years.  

Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Throughout that time, hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to work for Japanese companies. During World War II, thousands of Korean women were held as sex slaves for the Japanese military. 

According to the announcement, victims will be compensated by a state-run foundation in South Korea that is funded by civilian donations and the private sector. Japanese companies have no obligation to make any payments, they just have the option to donate. 

“If we compare it to a glass of water, I think that the glass is more than half full with water. We expect that the glass will be further filled moving forward based on Japan’s sincere response,” South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said. 

Lawyers and representatives for the victims, many of whom have passed away or are in their 90s, are not happy. They want the money to come from Japanese companies and an apology to come from the Japanese government. 

“(Japan’s reaction) is like a ceremony Tokyo has done for South Korea’s domestic politics to hide (Seoul’s) diplomatic failures. The local civilian funds have nothing to do with the forced labor issue. This situation is as if South Korean government is pleading the Japanese government to do something because it can’t get anything from Tokyo.” Lim Jae-sung, a lawyer representing forced labor victims, said. 

The United States is excited about this announcement because it strengthens ties between two key allies and helps all three countries stand together against China and a nuclear-capable North Korea

“President Yoon and Prime Minister Kishida are taking a critical step to forge a future for the Korean and Japanese people that is safer, more secure, and more prosperous,” President Biden said in a statement. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the sentiment in his own statement that said, “The trilateral relationship between the United States, the ROK, and Japan is central to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.” 

In 1965, Japan provided South Korea with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid and loans under the Seoul-Tokyo treaty. Japan contends all reparations were settled under that agreement.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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South Korea announced it will provide compensation to victims who were forced to work while the country was under Japanese rule. It’s an attempt to heal an old wound that goes back more than 100 years.  

Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. During that time, hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to work for Japanese companies. And during WWII, thousands of Korean women were held as sex slaves for the Japanese military. 

According to the announcement, victims will be compensated by a state-run foundation in South Korea that is funded by civilian donations and the private sector. Japanese companies have no obligation to make any payments, they just have the option to donate. Lawyers and representatives for the victims, many of whom have passed away or are in their 90’s, are not happy. They want the money to come from Japanese companies, and an apology to come from the Japanese government. 

“(Japan’s reaction) is like a ceremony Tokyo has done for South Korea’s domestic politics to hide (Seoul’s) diplomatic failures. This situation is as if South Korean Korean government is pleading the Japanese government to do something because it can’t get anything from Tokyo.”

The United States is excited about this announcement because it strengthens ties between two key allies and helps all three countries stand together against China and a nuclear capable North Korea. 

President Biden said it is a quote: “critical step to forge a future for the Korean and Japanese people that is safer, more secure, and more prosperous.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said quote: “The trilateral relationship between the United States, the ROK, and Japan is central to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region…” 

Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.