• SHARE

South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling last week ordering a major Japanese steelmaker to pay damages to South Koreans mobilized to wartime labor under Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula was easy to predict. Equally predictable is that a deterioration of relations between Japan and South Korea will follow. That future is not ordained, however. If Seoul recognizes the stakes and South Korean President Moon Jae-in prioritizes the future over the past, the national interest over domestic politics, and the national interest above settling scores, then this moment could be a step toward improved ties. But it isn’t likely.

That court decision was a long time coming. The case was first filed in a Korean court in 2005, after the plaintiffs lost a similar suit in Japan. South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2012 overturned lower court rulings that denied compensation and in a 2013 ruling the Seoul High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. appealed to the Supreme Court the following year and the court took five years to render last week’s decision.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)