WASHINGTON: South Korea announced plans to compensate victims of Japan’s forced wartime labor on Sunday, which US top diplomat Antony Blinken praised. This comes as Seoul seeks to forge closer ties with Tokyo.
The United States views South Korea and Japan as “two of our most important allies,” and “we are inspired by the work they have done to advance their bilateral relations,” as stated by the Secretary of State.
The relationship between the three countries is “central to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” he continued.
We commend Seoul and Tokyo for their boldness and foresight, and we invite the rest of the world to share in our excitement over this historic achievement.
In light of rising threats from a nuclear-armed North Korea, Seoul’s decision comes as security cooperation between South Korea and Japan has been ratcheted up a notch.
But relations between the two countries have been tense ever since Tokyo’s brutal colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945.
Seoul estimates that 780,000 Koreans, not including women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops, were conscripted into forced labor by Japan during the 35-year occupation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin of South Korea has stated that the government intends to compensate victims with funds taken from large South Korean corporations that benefited from a reparations deal with Tokyo in 1965.
Those who have suffered have panned the plan, saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough in making amends for what they’ve been through and doesn’t involve any direct compensation from the Japanese corporations at fault.