U.S. ‘understands’ Japan’s stance on wartime labor issue


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne and Japanese counterpart Taro Kono ahead of a trilateral strategic dialogue, on the sidelines of the ASEAN-related foreign ministers’ meeting in Bangkok on Aug. 1.

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe U.S. government has shown its understanding of Japan’s position that the issue of South Korean former requisitioned workers had been “resolved under a 1965 agreement between Japan and South Korea,” according to Japanese government sources.

The Japanese government has claimed that South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation over the issue go against the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Cooperation between the two countries. The sources said Tokyo intends to continue urging Seoul to take action against the rulings.

According to the sources, Foreign Minister Taro Kono brought up this issue when he stood talking with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the venue for Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related meetings of foreign ministers in Bangkok on Aug. 1. The sources said Kono told his U.S. counterpart that things like overturning the San Francisco Peace Treaty cannot be done. Pompeo agreed, they added.

The treaty, which was signed in 1951 and came into force in 1952, stipulates that the disposition of property and claims including debts that the South Korean government and its people have against Japan shall be subject to special arrangements between the two countries.

The 1965 agreement was concluded on the basis of this provision of the peace treaty. The accord came into force in the same year as it was signed by the two countries.

The agreement stipulates that the issue of the compensation claims was “settled completely and finally.” Under the agreement, Japan extended a total of $500 million in economic assistance, which consisted of $300 million in grants and $200 million in loans.

Should South Korea’s claim that it has the right to demand compensation be recognized, it could adversely affect the postwar settlements stipulated by the peace treaty. Pompeo’s remark is regarded as showing his understanding of this situation.

U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed strong interest in Japan-South Korea relations, saying he hopes they will improve some time soon.

The U.S. government plans to urge the two countries to resolve their issues through dialogue, rather than presenting a mediation deal.

Based on Washington’s views, Tokyo will call for Seoul to take steps to correct the situation of international law being violated.


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