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(2nd LD) PPP claims invalidity of DP-passed resolution on gov't forced labor victim compensation plan

All News 23:13 March 14, 2023

(ATTN: ADDS new info in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- A parliamentary resolution adopted at the foreign affairs committee this week to urge the government to withdraw its compensation plan for forced labor victims is invalid because the meeting was convened in violation of due procedures, the ruling People Power Party (PPP) claimed Tuesday.

On Monday, the Democratic Party (DP) passed the resolution through the committee in a meeting the party convened unilaterally without agreement with the PPP. The resolution urged the government to withdraw its plan to compensate wartime forced labor victims on its own without Japan's involvement.

Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader of the PPP, said that Monday's meeting was illegal because it was chaired by a DP lawmaker, rather than the committee's official chairman. It is only when the committee's chairman refuses to preside over a meeting that somebody else can chair it on behalf of the chairperson, Joo said.

"The Democratic Party illegally held a parliamentary foreign affairs committee meeting yesterday unilaterally," PPP floor leader Joo Ho-young said, claiming the meeting was invalid.

Joo said the government's compensation plan for victims of Japan's forced labor is the only way to normalize the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and Japan, and respect the Korean Supreme Court's landmark ruling in 2018 that ordered responsible Japanese companies to pay compensation to the victims.

"We had to make a choice for the future because trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the United States and Japan, and bilateral cooperation between South Korea and Japan are essential at this time to overcome the North Korean nuclear crisis," Joo said.

Joo also noted the U.S. and the European Union supported the plan.

The ruling People Power Party floor leader Joo Ho-young (L) speaks at a party meeting at the National Assembly on March 14, 2023. (Yonhap)

The ruling People Power Party floor leader Joo Ho-young (L) speaks at a party meeting at the National Assembly on March 14, 2023. (Yonhap)

Last week, the government announced a decision to compensate victims of Japan's forced labor during World War Ⅱ, when South Korea was under Japan's brutal colonial rule, with public donations, rather than money from the Japanese firms that used such labor.

The plan, however, has come under heavy criticism from some victims, civic groups and opposition parties. Critics have stressed that it makes no sense for South Korea to compensate victims when they were exploited for labor by Japanese companies.

The DP has denounced the decision as the worst diplomatic humiliation the country has ever seen.

"Three days after the government announced the third-party compensation plan, the Japanese foreign minister officially denied there was forced labor," DP floor leader Park Hong-keun said during a party meeting.

"We strongly demand the government withdraw the humiliating solution to the forced labor issue," he said.

Park put forth four issues that he said President Yoon Suk Yeol must ensure during an upcoming summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, including suspending the normalization of the General Security of Military Information Agreement, a military intelligence sharing pact, until Tokyo lifts export restrictions on Seoul.

The agenda also includes Japan's withdrawal of the plan to release radioactive water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, halting Japan's claim on Dokdo, and starting talks on the right of occupancy of a block of a tertiary basin located near the southernmost island of Mara.

Yoon is scheduled to visit Japan on Thursday and Friday.

Later in the day, sources said about 30 first-term lawmakers of the PPP are expected to visit Japan from March 27-29.

The party is coordinating details of the plan, which is intended to back up the result of the Yoon-Kishida summit and discuss ways to improve relations between the two countries, party officials said.


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