Forced labor survivor withdraws motion for liquidation of Japanese assets
A Korean survivor of Japan's wartime forced labor withdrew a request for a court motion to liquidate the assets of Japanese companies after accepting the government's compensation plan.
The victim filed an application to withdraw the motion with the Korean Supreme Court Wednesday after accepting the government's third-party compensation plan, legal sources said Thursday.
In March, the Yoon Suk Yeol government announced a plan to compensate Japan's wartime forced labor victims through a public foundation funded by Korean companies such as steelmaker Posco, without set contributions from Japan.
This victim is one of three surviving forced labor victims involved in the lawsuit against Japanese companies who came around to accepting the Korean government's compensation plan after initially rejecting it.
The three are the only survivors in a group of 15 victims, the rest represented by family members, who sued Japanese companies for compensation for being forcefully recruited into labor during World War II between the 1990s and the 2010s.
The two other survivors have yet to declare their intentions to withdraw their requests for the liquidation of the Japanese companies' assets.
In landmark rulings in late 2018, the Korean Supreme Court ordered two Japanese companies — Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — to individually compensate Korean forced labor victims.
Korea's top court acknowledged the illegality of Japan's 1919-45 colonial rule and recognized that individuals' rights to compensation had not expired.
The court decisions were strongly protested by Japan, which claims that all compensation issues related to its 1910-45 colonial rule were resolved with an agreement with Korea in 1965. Both Japanese companies refused to comply and compensate the victims.
In turn, the plaintiffs filed a request for the liquidation of the assets of two Japanese companies in Korea in the form of trademark and patent rights and stock to compensate the victims. The case has been pending in the Supreme Court for over a year.
The compensation of the victims has remained a sticky issue in bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo for years, as Japan has especially prickled over the potential liquidation of the companies' assets in Korea. Japan's export restrictions on Korea in the summer of 2019 were seen as a retaliatory measure for the court rulings.
The Korean government's third-party compensation plan proposed in March led the way for President Yoon Suk Yeol's bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, setting in motion a normalization of bilateral relations and a resumption of so-called shuttle diplomacy.
Some victims have protested the government plan for not including a proper apology from Japan nor involving the liable Japanese companies.
In a return visit to Seoul last month, Kishida said that his "heart aches" for those who "experienced difficulties and sadness under a harsh environment," referring to victims of Japan's colonial rule over Korea. While he stopped short of expressing an explicit apology to the victims, Kishida said he will "uphold" past Japanese government statements.
This includes the joint declaration of 1998 adopted by then President Kim Dae-jung and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi which expressed "deep remorse and heartfelt apology" for Japan's colonial rule.
After discussions with the government, 10 of the 15 victims and relatives opted to accept the compensation plan. However, the five others, including the three remaining survivors sent a letter to the Korea-funded foundation expressing their intention to reject the compensation plan.
In late May, one of the survivors conveyed intentions to accept the plan.
A Foreign Ministry official told reporters Thursday on the survivor's withdrawal of the motion, "Since the victim received the compensation funds through the foundation, it is understood that the motion to seize the assets of the defendant company was also withdrawn."
The official added that the Korean government "will continue to make efforts to meet with and persuade each victim's bereaved family" to accept the compensation plan.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]
- North Korean diplomat's wife, son disappear in Russia
- Cheon Junhyeok won't resume his activities with boy band TNX
- Experts stunned by Busan murder suspect's calm behavior during killing
- Fighters scrambled after Chinese, Russian aircraft enter Kadiz
- First FA-50 for Poland rolls out as security ties deepen
- Busan murder suspect apologizes to victim's family
- Yoon government releases first security strategy paper
- Dozen people injured in escalator accident in Bundang
- G-Dragon's exclusive contract with YG Entertainment ends
- Foreigners will no longer need bachelor's degrees to teach language at hagwons