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Murky Seoul-Tokyo relations and what's ahead Updated: 2019-05-22 15:23:53 KST

The Korean Supreme Court has ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean victims forced into hard labor during World War Two in October, last year.
But the Japanese firms are yet to comply with the ruling, and this week, the Japanese government has officially requested arbitration, involving a third country, on this issue.
On top of that, the Japanese government has rejected compensation lawsuits filed by Korean victims of wartime sexual slavery, according to local media outlets.
Today we go in-depth with Dr. Song Se-ryeon, Professor at Kyung Hee University on the strained Seoul-Tokyo relations and what we can expect ahead.

1. Japan has requested arbitration on the issue of wartime labor this week. The move comes ahead of U.S. President Trump's visit to Japan this weekend and the G20 summit next month. How do you interpret the timing of the request?

2. Japan is citing a Korea-Japan accord that was signed in 1965 as basis for making the arbitration request. Could you tell us about the 1965 accord and how it enables Japan to call for arbitration on the matter?

3. Japan's arbitration request follows Korean Supreme Court's ruling last year in which it ordered Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who were forced into labor during WWII. What were the Supreme Court's supporting arguments and evidence of its judgement?

4. It appears Japan is also mulling to take the issue to the International Court of Justice. How do you think Korea should handle the issue of wartime labor compensation?

5. Another wartime issue still unresolved is the compensation of Korean victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery. Korean victims and their families filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 2016, demanding legal compensation for their emotional and physical pain. And according to Japanese reports, Japan has flatly rejected the compensation lawsuit. Your thoughts on this issue?

6. Against such backdrop, the foreign ministers of Seoul and Tokyo will hold talks tomorrow in Paris. Would the two sides be able to come up with some kind of an agreement before tensions escalate further on the issue?

7. Another thorny issue between Seoul and Tokyo is the low fly-by of Japanese patrol aircraft which Seoul argues forced a South Korean warship to lock its radar on the plane. Taking the opportunity of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia's security forum set to be held in Singapore next week, do you think the two nations will be able to talk things out?

8. Back to President Trump's visit to Japan. What kind of requests, or discussions do you expect from the two this time around?

9. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to be attempting to exert more power in the Asia-Pacific region by showing off Japan's close ties with the U.S. while hinting at the possibility of a summit with Kim Jong-un. What kind of diplomatic strategy do you think South Korea needs on this regard?
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