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S. Korean victims urge direct negotiation with Japan wartime forced labor firms Updated: 2022-07-05 06:49:07 KST

MEANWHILE in line with efforts to seek tangible closure to Japan's wartime atrocities a South Korean task force has been set up comprising of government officials academic experts and related attorneys.
Kim Dami has more.

Diplomatic efforts by Seoul to arrange direct negotiations between the Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor and related parties in Japan to finally resolve the matter.
That's what the victims asked for on Monday from the South Korean government at the inaugural session of the government-civil society task force.

"We ask the South Korean government to invoke 'diplomatic protection' as a power recognized by the Supreme Court decision in 2018."

Diplomatic protection is when states act on behalf of their citizens whose rights have been violated by another state.
It came up in 2018, when South Korea's top court ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel Corporation to compensate the victims.
The Japanese firms refused to pay, citing Japan's official position that all reparations were settled under the 1965 accord that normalized bilateral ties.
This refusal led to the Korean victims filing lawsuits, which they won, to have the companies' assets in Korea seized.

Led by the first vice foreign minister, Cho Hyun-dong, Monday's session brought together government officials, experts as well as the attorneys of the victims and their families.
Ahead of Monday's meeting, the attorneys told reporters that the Japanese companies have not responded to communication in any shape or form, and stressed that it would be a rational move for the firms to negotiate with the victims.
If such talks do take place, they said, the lawsuit to seize their assets could go in another direction if the victims agree.
The companies have appealed the original court ruling, so the liquidation of their assets has not yet begun, but the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the appeal in the coming weeks or months.
The victims' side further warned that the task force should do more than just gather opinions or they may reconsider their participation.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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