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PM meets with social elders, experts to collect views on forced labor ruling

Politics 17:26 November 13, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon met Tuesday with a group of social elders and experts on relations with Japan to collect views on how the government should handle a recent Supreme Court ruling ordering a Japanese firm to compensate forced labor victims.

The Supreme Court ruled late last month that a Japanese steel firm should compensate four Koreans mobilized into forced labor during the 1910-45 colonial rule, rejecting Japanese claims that all colonial-era compensation claims were settled under a 1965 treaty signed by the two countries when they normalized diplomatic relations.

The decision sparked strong protests from Japan, threatening to further strain the already frayed relations with Tokyo. The government in Seoul said it respects the court's decision and will formulate its response after taking various factors into consideration.

Tuesday's lunch meeting was part of such efforts.

"This is an occasion set up to listen to various views of social elders about Korea-Japan issues, including the ruling on forced labor, and look for wisdom and solutions," a government official said on condition of anonymity.

About 10 civilian experts attended the meeting, including Yang Kee-ho, a Japanese studies professor at Seoul's Sungkonghoe University; Professor Lee Won-deog of Seoul's Kookmin University; and former Foreign Minister Gong Ro-myung.

Participants reportedly put forward various ideas, including creating a fund to compensate victims and having Japanese firms contribute to the fund.

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