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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 16 - 29  > 118 intellectuals: Now is time to improve relationship with South Korea
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2020 September 16 - 29 [POLITICS]

118 intellectuals: Now is time to improve relationship with South Korea

September 24, 2020

More than 100 intellectuals in Japan have launched a petition drive calling on Japan's new government to make efforts immediately to improve Japan-ROK relations, looking on the resignation of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo as good timing to restore friendly ties with South Korea.

Concerned about the worsening relationship between Japan and South Korea, 118 scholars, lawyers, and journalists on September 18 released a statement titled, "Now is the time to improve bilateral relations with South Korea," asking the general public to sign the petition in support of their statement.

The statement points out that after Japan restrained exports to South Korea last year, the bilateral relations have been at the worst since the two countries normalized diplomatic ties, and that the restoration of normal relations has become more urgent than ever before. The statement calls for the holding of a summit meeting as the first step in solving the issue.

The statement argues that the 2018 South Korean Supreme Court's rulings over Korean victims of wartime forced labor in Japan which ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation triggered the ongoing conflict between Japan and South Korea. The statement calls for the lifting of restrictions on exports to South Korea, which the Japanese government has been taking as a retaliatory measure to those rulings, in order to create an enabling environment for dialogue.

The statement states that individual victims still have the right to claim for wartime damages even under the 1965 Japan-ROK Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Claims, and cites a precedent in which a defendant Japanese firm expressed its apology to and reached a settlement with Korean victims after accepting responsibility.

The statement demands that the government of Japan not intervene in civil trials and recognize again its past mistake which caused many Asians enormous damage and suffering due to its colonial rule. The statement also demands that the government not put a deadline on claims and face up to its past sincerely based on the 1998 Japan-ROK Partnership Declaration which expresses deep remorse and heartfelt apology for Japan's colonial control over Korea.

Past related articles:
> Shii: Japan’s remorse for its colonial rule essential to ease tensions with South Korea [August 27, 2019]
> Abe gov’t drops South Korea from ‘white list’ of preferential trade partners [August 3, 2019]
> JCP urges Abe gov’t to refrain from expanding export restrictions against South Korea [August 1, 2019]
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