South Korea court orders Mitsubishi to pay compensation for wartime forced labor
SOUTH Korea’s supreme court ordered Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industry on Thursday to compensate 10 South Koreans for forced labor during Japan’s colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
It is the second such ruling in a month, in an issue that has already poisoned relations between the United States’ two closest allies in Asia.
Experts said it complicates efforts to present a united front against the threats posed by North Korea’s nuclear program and China’s increasingly aggressive regional diplomacy.
Japan maintains the issue of forced labor was fully settled in 1965 when the two countries restored diplomatic ties and Tokyo made a compensation payment to Seoul for its 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula. But elderly victims of forced labor have been pursuing their own claims through the courts for years, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in supported their right to claim compensation after he took office last year.
Last month, South Korea’s supreme court made a landmark ruling in favor of South Koreans seeking compensation from Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal. Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, called Thursday’s decision “extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable,” and said Tokyo would consider taking the case to international arbitration.
Kim Sung-joo, center bottom, a victim of Japan’s forced labor, and their family members and supporters raise their hands in celebration after the Supreme Court’s ruling ordering Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate them in Seoul on Thursday.