Japan wants concrete proposals from S. Korea to resolve wartime dispute

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TOKYO, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — Japan on Tuesday said it wants to see concrete proposals by South Korea in resolving a bilateral wartime dispute after South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s remarks at a New Year’s press conference.

“It’s difficult to make a judgment solely based on the South Korean side’s statement that it wants to resolve issues with Japan,” Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a press conference on the matter.

“I want to make a judgment after seeing concrete proposals by the South Korean side,” Motegi said.

Motegi’s remarks follow those made by Moon at a New Year’s press conference during which he suggested the possible sale of Japanese companies’ assets could be undesirable for bilateral ties.

Moon was also quoted as saying that the South Korean government will discuss a solution with Japan that “the plaintiffs can agree on” and “persuade them to the maximum extent.”

Supreme Court rulings in South Korea in 2018 ordered Japanese companies to compensate Koreans for their forced wartime labor, and court proceedings are underway in South Korea to seize and liquidate the companies’ assets.

Motegi has previously said that any damages inflicted on Japanese companies would result in irreparable damage to bilateral ties.

The two sides have been at odds over this and other issues, with bilateral ties sinking to historic lows.

Japan, for its part, has claimed the rulings are not in line with international law and run contrary to the foundation of friendly and cooperative relations between the two neighbors since the 1965 normalization of diplomatic ties.

In a policy speech delivered by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on the first day of the regular Diet session the previous day, the Japanese leader described relations with South Korea as being in an “extremely difficult situation.”

This was owing to recent disagreements related to a separate South Korean court ruling. The disputed ruling ordered the Japanese government to pay damages to former “comfort women”, a euphemism for the thousands of girls and women, many from the Korean Peninsular, forced by the Imperial Japanese Army to work as sex slaves, servicing Japanese soldiers at military brothels during World War II.

Suga said at the time that under international law, a sovereign state is not subject to the jurisdiction of foreign courts and, as such, the lawsuit must be thrown out.

He added that the ruling also goes against the 1965 bilateral agreement.

But Seoul maintains that the “comfort women” issue has not been settled as the will of the surviving victims has not been reflected.

Another deal made in 2015 is felt by the South Korean side to fall a long way short of the reparations due in light of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the “comfort women” and Japan’s seeming inability to truly voice its remorse as evidenced by myriad efforts to whitewash its wartime wrongdoings.

Under the agreement reached in December 2015, Japan provided funds to a foundation to help former “comfort women” and their families, and, for Tokyo’s part, the agreement reached was supposed to settle the issue “finally and irreversibly.” Enditem

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