S.Korea plans to use foundation to pay wartime laborers in place of Japan firms

The South Korean government plans to use a foundation to offer payments to Korean wartime laborers in place of the Japanese firms that have been ordered by the Supreme Court to pay compensation.

The government's plan is based on views that it is difficult to expect compensation and apologies from the Japanese companies.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry explained the government's plan at a forum held in Seoul on Thursday to discuss ways to resolve the wartime labor issue.

Attendants included lawmakers, experts and representatives for some of the plaintiffs in the wartime labor lawsuits.

The ministry's director general for Asia and Pacific affairs, Seo Min-jung, told the forum that the plan was based on discussions by a public-private consultative body that met four times last year.

She said the consultative body pointed out that it is difficult to expect the Japanese companies to pay compensation or to offer apologies, and that a third party could pay the damages instead.

In view of the aging plaintiffs, the South Korean government regards Thursday's open forum as the final stage in settling the wartime labor issue with Japan.

However, South Korea's opposition parties were against Thursday's open forum.

The forum was also boycotted by people affiliated to some of the plaintiffs who are demanding compensation and apologies from the Japanese firms.

The administration of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol wants to quickly improve ties with Japan by putting an end to the wartime compensation issue.

But it remains to be seen whether the government's plan can win public support in South Korea.

South Korea's Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Japanese companies to compensate people who say they or their relatives were forced to work for the firms during World War Two.

The Japanese government says any right to claims was settled completely and finally in 1965, when Japan and South Korea normalized ties.