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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 November 20 - 26  > Japanese and South Korean lawyers’ issue joint declaration on issue of wartime Korean forced laborers in Japan
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2019 November 20 - 26 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Japanese and South Korean lawyers’ issue joint declaration on issue of wartime Korean forced laborers in Japan

November 21, 2019

Lawyers’ organizations in Japan and South Korea on November 20 issued a joint declaration on the issue of Korean victims of industrial forced labor in Japan during the war, stressing the need of providing relief to the remaining victims without delay.

The South Korean top court in October and November last year issued two rulings ordering two Japanese companies to pay damages to Korean forced labor victims. The Japanese government reacted angrily to the rulings and since then, bilateral relations have been strained.

The joint declaration states that the issue of forced labor victims’ right to claim compensation has yet to be settled and that this point was confirmed not only in the two rulings by the South Korean top court but also in a past Japanese Supreme Court ruling and the Japanese government’s response to it. The declaration notes that as the South Korean top court rulings were given through proper legal procedures, the defendant companies should accept them in accordance with the principle of the rule of law and that the Japanese government should refrain from attempting to unjustly protect the defendants. The declaration demands that the Japanese and South Korean governments and the defendant companies immediately take necessary measures to restore the rights and honor of the victims.

On the day, the seven Japanese lawyers’ organizations and five South Korean lawyers’ organizations which compiled the joint declaration held a press conference in Tokyo and Seoul.

At the press conference in Tokyo, Lawyer Kawakami Shiro, who is a member of a Japanese lawyers’ group seeking to solve the wartime forced labor issue, said, “The forced labor issue is often regarded as a matter of politics or diplomacy, but it is a matter of human rights.” He stressed that the top priority is to recover victims’ rights, which is the common understanding of lawyers in the two countries.

Past related articles:
> Japan will restrict exports to S. Korea as retaliatory step over the issue of Korean forced laborers [July 11, 2019]
> Korean top court orders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay damages to wartime forced laborers [November 30, 2018]
> Korean top court orders Japanese steelmaker to compensate ex-Korean forced laborers [October 31, 2018]

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