PM says relations with Japan must move toward future

February 6, 2023

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said Monday that South Korea’s relations with Japan must move toward the future, as Seoul has unveiled a plan to resolve the issue of wartime forced labor that has long strained ties with Tokyo.

“We believe that Korea-Japan relations should move toward the future rather than being too obsessed with the past, given diplomatic, security and economic situations we are facing,” Han told a parliamentary meeting.

Han’s remarks came in response to a question by a lawmaker on how the government would resolve the issue of wartime forced labor.

“On this issue, we believe that the relationship between Korea and Japan should be normalized, while providing sufficient communication to those who have suffered various pains at home,” Han said.

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have frayed since South Korea’s Supreme Court issued rulings in 2018 that ordered Japan’s Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay compensation to the Korean forced labor victims.

Last month, the government unveiled the plan to compensate victims of Japan’s wartime forced labor through a public foundation, in an alternative to receiving compensation from the Japanese companies.

However, the government’s plan drew strong backlash from victims and their families.

Asked whether the Japanese companies should be involved in the compensation plan, Han replied, “I think we should fully understand the thoughts of those who suffered such damage in Korea and try to come up with a good solution through communication with them.”

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo speaks at a parliamentary meeting on Feb. 6, 2023. (Yonhap)
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo speaks at a parliamentary meeting on Feb. 6, 2023. (Yonhap)