South Korea’s move to ask Japan’s compensation of the wartime sexual abuse of Korean women and for forced labor is “illegal”, Japan’s foreign minister said on Monday, accusing South Korea of adding into the tension of both countries.
South Korea’s court ruling demanding Japan to pay for the 12 South Korean women who were used by the Japanese as sex slaves in its military brothels during World War 2 as “an abnormal development absolutely unthinkable under international law and bilateral relations,” said Toshimitsu Motegi, in a diplomatic policy speech in parliament.
“We strongly urge South Korea to correct the violation of international law as soon as possible,” Motegi said.
Last January 8, Seoul Central District released a ruling demanding the Japanese government to shell out 100 million won or $91, 360 to each of a dozen of elderly women who were sexually abused during the wartime. In 2013, the 12 have filed a lawsuit over their wartime struggles as “comfort women.”
The 12 were among the women who were sent to Japanese army brothels. Apart from then, there were tens of thousands of women in Asia and the Pacific who suffered the same fate during the Japanese occupation.
The demands of the South Korean court have added to the already cold relationship between the two counties. South Korea Japan had been through the last down level over the past ten years due to South Korea’s decisions over the other country’s action while the Korean Peninsula was under the Japanese rule in 1910 to 1945.
Last 2018, the South Korea’s Supreme Court demanded Japanese companies to make amends with South Korean who were covered by forced labor during wartime.
The rift between the two countries did not end on this aspect as it intensified into a trade dispute, triggering South Korea to abandon an essential factor of the regional defense cooperation with the United States: the 2016 military intelligence-sharing agreement.
Japan refused to fall into the demands of South Korea on wartime compensation. It argued that it has already settled the issue under a 1965 treaty stabilizing its affairs. Under the treaty, Japan has already given South Korea an economic assistance of $500 million.
Meanwhile, on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that it “wouldn’t be desirable for bilateral relations” if Seoul and Tokyo will be able to reach a diplomatic solution ahead of South Korean’s settlement on its local assets of the Japanese companies that were confiscated.
The president also said that the decision on the comfort women compensation is as “honestly a complicating” move of the government in its thrust to make its relationship with Japan better. Moon did not disclose any further details on the matter.
Moon, in an apparent change in tone, said that his country does not scrap the 2015 deal. In fact, South Korea considers the treaty as a legitimate deal that can give a foundation in looking for a better solution that can answer the calls of the victims.
Despite these matters, Motegi regarded the cooperation of South Korea, as its “important neighbor”, was “indispensable for regional security.”
Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai, on the other hand, said that his government “took note” of Moon’s remarks. He said that Japan is demanding for possible measures by South Korea while it is also contemplating all possible choices.
“We will be watching what actions will be taken by the South Korean side,” Sakai said.