Korea-Japan legal group issues statement on forced labor victims
Nov. 22, 2019
Global Korean Post
By Kim Eun-young and Lee Hana
A group of Korean and Japanese lawyers on Nov. 20 released a joint statement on reparations for Korean victims of forced labor by Japan.
The group held news conferences in both Seoul and Tokyo to explain the statement, which said compensation for the victims is a human rights issue separate from the 1965 Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement. It urged both countries and the Japanese companies that used such workers to swiftly resolve the issue.
The statement said “the Supreme Court of Japan and the Japanese government posited in 2007 that the individual right of Korean victims to claim compensation was still valid,” pressing Tokyo to respect the Korean Supreme Court’s verdict.
“The Korean Supreme Court arrived at this verdict through legitimate legal procedures. Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries should therefore accept the court’s ruling, and the Japanese government should not interfere in this process.”
The group also emphasized the need for both governments and the Japanese companies concerned to restore the victims’ honor and rights.
“Crimes against humanity cannot be settled through an agreement between countries, nor can such a settlement allow an individual’s right to file a claim for damages to expire. Only when the Japanese government and related companies take responsibility and offer a formal apology for the human rights violations can the case be settled,” said Korean lawyer Park Chan-un, the head of the Human Rights Law Association.
Uchida Masatoshi, a Japanese lawyer attending the Tokyo news conference, criticized the Abe administration’s insistence that Korea comply with agreements made at the national level.
“The Korea-Japan Claims Settlement Agreement must be reexamined. The issue cannot be solved simply by looking at it as a treaty violation,” he said.