Japanese ambassador to South Korea Hiroshi Tomita said on the 6th that Japan and South Korea need to create an “appropriate atmosphere” for the leaders of the two countries to meet. South Korean media interpreted that Tomita intends to call on Japan and South Korea to make progress on the labor compensation dispute during World War II.
The South Korean courts previously issued separate rulings requiring Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel to compensate for the forced recruitment of workers on the Korean Peninsula during World War II, and ordered the seizure of Japanese companies’ assets in South Korea for liquidation as compensation.
The Japanese government determined that the “Japan-Korea Claims Agreement” signed when the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1965 had settled such claims and strongly opposed the ruling made by the Korean Court. Around this dispute, the South Korean side requires the Japanese side to show more sincerity, while the Japanese side requires the South Korean side to come up with a solution acceptable to Japan. According to the Japanese media, the “stalemate state” of relations between the two countries shows no signs of improvement.
Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported that the Japanese side had previously set conditions for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s visit to South Korea to meet with South Korean leaders, requiring the South Korean side to take “reasonable measures” acceptable to Japan on the World War II labor compensation dispute. Ensure that the assets are “unrealized”.
According to Kyodo News, it is unlikely that South Korea will make such a promise. Several sources on Japan-South Korea relations disclosed in mid-October that the Japanese side has notified the South Korean side that if the two sides cannot make progress on the compensation dispute, Yoshihide Suga will not go to South Korea to meet with South Korean leaders.
Tomita said at a forum on Jeju Island, South Korea on the 6th: “In view of the general sentiment surrounding our bilateral relations…I think the people of both countries (Japan and South Korea) have certain expectations about when the leaders of the two countries will meet. The challenge is to create an atmosphere where the leaders of the two countries can meet and respond to the expectations of the people of the two countries.”
Tomita said that the new Japanese government provides an opportunity for Japan and South Korea to re-examine the labor compensation disputes during World War II and pave the way for better dialogue between the two sides. According to him, if the leaders of Japan and South Korea meet, it will undoubtedly help the two establish a close personal relationship and help resolve compensation disputes.