(2nd LD) DP urges Yoon to use summit with Kishida to produce compensation plan for forced labor victims
(ATTN: ADDS ruling party leader's comments in last 4 paras)
By Lee Minji and Kim Na-young
SEOUL, March 16 (Yonhap) -- The floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) called on President Yoon Suk Yeol on Thursday to use a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to produce a proper compensation plan for the victims of wartime forced labor.
Yoon should also press the Japanese government to issue a sincere apology to the victims, Rep. Park Hong-keun said in a party meeting.
"This visit to Japan should never just be President Yoon Suk Yeol's trip down memory lane," he said, referring to an interview Yoon had with a Japanese newspaper in which he recalled his time living in Japan as a child.
Earlier Thursday, Yoon arrived in Tokyo for a summit with Kishida.
The trip has drawn wide attention as it comes less than two weeks after Seoul announced a solution to the long-running disputes over compensation for Koreans forced into hard labor for Japanese companies when Korea was under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-1945.
Under the plan, a public foundation affiliated with the interior ministry will compensate the victims with donations from domestic businesses, a solution that has already been rejected by some of the victims for the lack of participation by Japanese firms.
The DP has denounced the decision as the worst diplomatic humiliation the country has ever seen.
Park said the government's plan even retrogressed from a proposal Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of responsible Japanese firms, put forth in 2011, noting the government's plan does not stipulate a sincere apology from responsible firms and recognition of the forcible nature of the labor.
"I ask Yoon to play the basic role as the president of the Republic of Korea by representing the weight of history, responsibility on our people, and the pain of forced labor victims," Park said.
DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung said he hopes Yoon's visit will produce good results for various pending issues, including Japan's plan to release radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, so that the "pride of our people and the national dignity won't be damaged."
Ruling People Power Party leader Kim Gi-hyeon defended the compensation plan as a decision for future generations.
"Whether we like it or not, Japan is not only a key economic partner, but a country we must cooperate with to deal with the security crisis caused by North Korea," Kim said during a meeting of the party's Supreme Council.
Japan should also take reciprocating measures in response to South Korea's decision, Kim said.
Kim also said the previous government of President Moon Jae-in did nothing to resolve the forced labor issue, adding that the main opposition party is trying to reignite an anti-Japanese sentiment for its political interests.
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