Victims of Japan's wartime forced labor protests gov't compensation plan
SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor and their families on Monday condemned the government's plan to compensate plaintiffs through a domestic foundation without contributions from the accused Japanese firms.
Seoul's foreign ministry on Monday proposed compensating 15 victims of forced labor who won legal battles against two Japanese firms through a Seoul-backed public foundation, instead of direct payment from the responsible companies -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corp.
Legal representatives of victims and a civic group advocating them blasted the government's plan as a scheme that effectively nullifies the South Korean Supreme Court's 2018 order for the two Japanese firms to compensate them.
"(With the latest proposal), the Korean government effectively provides immunity to the accused Japanese firms from legal obligations," they said at a press conference in Seoul.
They said the government has unveiled the "humiliating" resolution that does not require Japan's apology nor its financial contribution, adding that all three surviving victims are opposed to the plan.
Under the government's scheme, the Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization, affiliated with the interior ministry, will collect "voluntary" donations from the private sector.
The government is expected to receive donations from South Korean companies that had benefited from a 1965 bilateral treaty, such as steelmaker POSCO, under which Tokyo offered a grant of US$300 million to Seoul as compensation.
Tokyo has maintained that all reparation issues related to its colonial rule of Korea were settled in a 1965 deal to normalize bilateral diplomatic ties.
Touching on the possible creation of a joint "future youth fund" by the business communities of the two nations, the groups supporting the Korean victims called it a "gambit to conceal the South's diplomatic failure."
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