Cheong Wa Dae rejects Japan’s arbitration committee proposal
July 19, 2019
Global Korean Post
By Xu Aiying and Kim Minji
Cheong Wa Dae on July 16 said it cannot accept Japan’s suggestion of a three-nation arbitration committee to decide on reparations for Korean victims of forced labor during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
The presidential office reaffirmed its stance on not accepting Tokyo’s proposal for holding a “diplomatic discussion” through the “formation of an arbitration committee.”
In November last year, the Korean Supreme Court ordered a Japanese corporation to compensate Korean victims of forced labor. On May 20 this year, Japan suggested a tripartite arbitration committee to comprise one nation selected by Korea, another by Japan and the third chosen by both Seoul and Tokyo.
Cheong Wa Dae said in a statement, “On Japan’s proposal, the Supreme Court reached its verdict because of the relevance of the separation of the legislature, administration and judiciary,” adding, “The administrative branch cannot reverse the judiciary’s decision.”
Though Japan invoked the 1965 bilateral treaty that normalized diplomatic ties in requesting the committee, the presidential office said Korea disagreed on the invocation’s requirements and thus had no obligation to respond to the proposal.
Seoul also reaffirmed its position on resolving the forced laborers issue, saying its “1+1+alpha” solution was never examined. This proposal envisions a fund to help victims raised by Korean and Japanese companies while the Korean government compensates other victims.
Cheong Wa Dae stressed the importance of finding a solution acceptable to victims.
In addition, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul told a news briefing the same day, “We respect the court’s decision on the forced laborers issue. We’ve been handling this issue while considering bilateral relations, the pain of the victims and ways to heal them.”
“Our position is that we are open to holding talks on using rational methods (to resolve this issue).”
Kim Hyun-chong, deputy director of the National Security Office under Cheong Wa Dae, on July 19 denied Japan’s claim that Korea violated international law and actions must be taken because Seoul rejected Tokyo’s proposal of forming a three-nation arbitration committee on reparations for Korean forced laborers.
“Japan imposed export restrictions despite diplomatic efforts on the forced laborers issue not being exhausted. The restrictions violate World Trade Organization rules and free trade standards and principles from the G-20 summit in Osaka, and can seriously harm the global value chain. Thus Japan is the country violating international law,” he told a news briefing.
“I strongly request that Tokyo retract the restrictions and take no action that could worsen the situation.”