What is the issue of the former civilian workers
from the Korean peninsula, so called “forced labor” ?





 The issue of the former civilian workers from the Korean peninsula has made the relationship between Japan and Korea worst after the war.

 According to the recently disclosed document of the 1965 Claims Agreement at the Japan-Korea meeting by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the South Korean representative stated, “We demand compensation for the workers being forced to work and having suffered mental and physical pain.”

 The 1965 Claims Agreement concluded after these negotiations clearly states that the issue of claims between Japan and Korea has been completely and finally resolved.


 The Japanese government claims that the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Cooperation between Japan and the Republic of Korea of 1965 stipulates that the problem concerning claims is settled completely and finally.  It is shown briefly on the following web page.

    https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000420466.pdf

 However, in October 2018, the Grand Court of Korea ordered Japanese company to pay for damages that they were forced to work by Japanese companies during the war.

 Readers of this content will think that there is a problem with the 1965 Claim  Agreement.

 

In fact, at the time of the Roh Moo-hyun administration in 2005, a committee was set up, and tens of thousands of pages of the agreement materials were investigated over a period of seven months.

 According to a Japanese web article (July 17, 2019) of Korea ’s largest newspaper, “The committee concluded that $ 300 million in grants received from Japan in the 1965 Claim Agreement included the compensation fee.
 Although the individual's right to claim is alive, it was stated that the 1965 Claim Agreement made it difficult to exercise.”

 

The article appeared to have been inconvenient to the Moon Jae-in administration and was removed that day.

 However, since the copy remains, the English translation of the abstract is shown below.
  It will deepen the understanding of the dispute between Japan and South Korea regarding the issue of the former civilian workers.


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 The court accepted the request for disclosure of the Claim Agreement documents by the civilian workers, and the Claim Agreement documents, which had been closed for 40 years, were released.

 In January 2005, the Roh Moo-hyun administration launched a civil-government joint committee to gather government officials such as the prime minister and ministers and experts from various fields in order to prevent confusion.
 President Moon Jae-in was the member of the Committee.

 

One of the issues was "does the individual's claim right disappear in the negotiations between states?"

 The conclusion of the Committee was that the individual's right to claim was alive, but it was difficult to exercise according to the 1965 Claim Agreement.

 Instead, the Roh administration had concentrated on compensation for the civilian workers.
 In 2007, the special law set out the procedure for additional compensation, and by 2015, 68.14 billion won were paid to 72,361 the civilian workers.

 

 The announcement of the committee's examination results made it clear that the issue of the compensation for the civilian workers problem was over.
 The Korean government also maintained the position that the issue of the civilian workers ended with the 1965 Claim Agreement, and the court also made a similar decision in related cases.

 

However, in May 2012, the Grand Court issued an abolition return judgment that "even if there is the 1965 Claim Agreement, you can exercise the right of individual claims."

 At that time, the chief justice officer, Kim Nung-hwan, said that he had written a ruling in the spirit of founding the country.

 Then, in October 2018, the Grand Court has finalized the decision.

 

A situation has arisen where the judiciary and the administrative government conflict.

 The Moon Jae-in administration maintained the position for eight months that "we can not get involved in the judgment of the judicial office by the separation of the three powers" against Japan that demands diplomatic negotiations.


 Former Korean ambassador to Japan says, "In the US etc., there is a tradition of judicial self-restraint where the judicial branch listens carefully to the executive branch regarding foreign affairs, but in Korea, it has been regarded as abuse of jurisdiction."