South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday reiterated the country’s position of seeking to resolve issues with Japan over wartime labor lawsuits based on the will of the victims and their kin.
Obtaining consent from victims is the most important principle in the dispute, an official at the presidential office quoted Moon as saying.
A victim-centered approach is an internationally agreed principle, the president said, noting that the December 2015 bilateral accord to resolve the issue of Korean “comfort women” was not based on the principle and therefore failed to gain understanding from the South Korean public. “Comfort women” is a euphemism for women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.
Moon’s remarks were apparently intended to hit back at some Japanese media reports critical of his stance over the wartime labor issue.
By highlighting the importance of the victim-centered approach, he is also believed to be attempting to rebut Tokyo’s call for Seoul to rectify its violation of international law.
South Korea’s Supreme Court issued rulings in 2018 ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to South Korean plaintiffs, including those requisitioned to work for the firms during the war.
The Japanese government says the issue of wartime labor was fully resolved under a 1965 bilateral agreement on property and claims.