Japanese cabinet chief secretary expresses regret over Moon’s remarks

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed regret Friday over South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s remarks on historical issues linked to the Japanese colonial rule over Korea.

Suga told reporters at a briefing that Moon’s remarks at his New Year’s press conference put blame on the Japanese government over historical issues, according to Yonhap News.

On Thursday, Moon called Japan to have “more humble attitude” toward ongoing historic issues related to Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and respect the South Korean judicial decisions that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor.

Moon urged Japanese politicians not to politicize the issues, which he said won’t help the two nations build a “forward-looking relationship.”

Suga hit back at Moon’s comment, saying the South Korean Supreme Court‘s decision breached the pact which the two nations agreed in 1965 to normalize diplomatic relations and settle historical issues related to the colonial period.

Suga criticized the South Korean government’s reluctant attitude to act on the order by the South Korean court to confiscate South Korea-based assets of Japanese steel firm Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal.

A Seoul court had assets of a venture company established by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and South Korean steelmaker POSCO seized to pay for unpaid wages to South Korean forced laborers.

South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled in October that the Japanese steelmaker should pay $ 87,000 to each of the four South Korean victims of forced labor and unpaid wages during wartime.

The ruling concluded a long-running lawsuit filed by the four forced laborers against the Japanese steel company in 2005. Only one of them, 94-year-old Lee Chun-shik, survived to see the court’s decision.

The court also ordered Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay $ 71,700 to the families of six men and $ 89,624 to $ 107,549 to four female forced laborers.

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