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S. Korea open to 'reasonable, realistic' solution to Japan's wartime forced labor issue: foreign ministry

Diplomacy 16:40 September 28, 2021

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is open to any suggestion from Japan for a "reasonable and realistic" solution to the issue of its wartime forced labor, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, renewing calls for Tokyo to sincerely engage in dialogue to address the long-festering issue.

Choi Young-sam, the ministry's spokesperson, made the remarks after Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expressed regrets over Monday's Korean court ruling that ordered the sale of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s assets here to compensate forced labor victims.

"Our position is that we are open to any suggestion for a reasonable and realistic solution to the issue," Choi told a regular press briefing.

This file photo, taken April 15, 2021, shows Choi Young-sam, the foreign ministry's spokesperson, speaking during a press briefing at the ministry in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"We expect the Japanese side will sincerely engage in dialogue and show a sincere attitude to explore a fundamental solution that can be agreeable to the victims," he added.

Choi also pointed out Tokyo's call for Seoul to first put forward a solution would not be helpful for settling the issue, stressing the need for the two governments to hold consultations on the issue at an early date.

In addition, the spokesperson said Japan's claim the court ruling demanding the company's compensation is a breach of international law is "unilateral and arbitrary."

Tokyo has argued all reparation issues, stemming from its 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, were settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations.

On Monday, the Daejeon District Court ordered the sale of Mitsubishi's two copyrights and two patents to compensate two female plaintiffs.

The ruling marked the first time a South Korean court has ordered the liquidation of Japanese corporate assets in a damages suit filed by workers mobilized to forced labor during World War II.


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