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Title 64th Unification Strategy Forum on Resolving the South Korea-Japan Relations Held
Date 2019.08.12
Type [News]

At the forum, Professor Su-hoon Lee of Kyungnam University, former ROK ambassador to Japan 
made remarks at the 64th Unification Strategy Forum held by Kyungnam University's Institute for Far Eastern Studies under the theme "How Should South Korea-Japan Relations be Resolved?". He defined the Japanese government's unilateral export restriction as "Korea-Japan trade war."and stressed that South Korean and Japanese governments should deal with the forced labor issue through negotation.

Professor Lee remarked,
 "The current crisis stemmed from Abe administration's stance on historical issue that spread to economic areas.” and "in the backdrop of this crisis lies the issues of revoking the agreements on Japanese wartime sex slavery (dismantling the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation) and the South Korea's Supreme Court ruling on forced labor of Japanese companies.

"We cannot find a diplomatic solution in such a high-handed and one-sided manner as the Japanese government is now," Professor Lee said. "The two governments should make efforts to find a soulution based on the measures proposed by Korea on June 19 (Korea and Japan companies voluntarily raise funds and provide compensation to the victims)."

Gil Yoon-hyung, a former Tokyo correspondent of the Hankyoreh, predicted that while the conflict between South Korea and Japan will be prolonged, it may be possible to find
 a solution after Prime Minister Abe recognizes that the Japanese colonial rule was made against the will of Koreans and through this a compromise may be reached in the form of creating a fund involving Korean and Japanese companies and the Korean government."

 Professor Lee Won-deok of Kookmin University suggested four ways to resolve the Korea-Japan relations. He explained explained that if the issue of forced labor is left unattended, the Korea-Japan relations could run into extreme deterioration, and negotiations may be possible if Seoul's active role is added to the proposed plan to create a joint fund for Korean-Japanese companies.

"One solution may be for the Korean government to issue a special statement urging the Japanese government to apologize and reflect on the illegality of its colonial rule but give up on all material demands such as reparations and compensation from Japan, and South Korean government takes responsible for the relief of the victims," he said. "It could be a solution that will dramatically change the phase of the relationship between Korea and Japan through creative ideas."

Finally, Prof. Lee Won-duk added, "Although the proposed joint appeal to the International Court of Justice may take more than three to four years until a final conclusion is reached, it could transition into a 
legal dispute structure between the major powers."

Regarding the Supreme Court ruling, Jeong Hye-kyung, former
section chief of Commission on verification and support for the victims of forced mobilization under Japanese colonialism in Korea said, "Since this lawsuit was not filed that expected actual compensations from the Japanese company, the Korean government should take the lead to resolving this issue." She pointed out that the Korean government should first restore trust from the victims by showing its commitment and responsibility.

Professor Cho Jin-koo said, "The Supreme Court ruling is beyond the agreement on reparation, and the two governments should work to avoid teh worst situation through diplomacy," adding, "As the Foreign Ministry announced in the major tasks of 2019, we should manage the past history issue under the two-track system so that it does not hamper cooperation and strengthen high-level talks between the two countries."

He added, "We should refrain from the emotional and provocative words from officials and political leaders of the two countries," and at the same time remarked that we need to develop "public diplomacy aimed at ordinary Japanese citizens and form solidarity with conscientious minorities in Japan."