SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Japan have tentatively agreed to set up a “future youth fund” to finance scholarships, as part of an agreement on the settlement of the issue of compensation for Korean victims of forced labor practiced by Japan, sources said on Sunday.
The fund will be set up jointly by the Federation of Korean Industries, South Korea’s big business lobby, and the Federation of Japanese Business (Keidanren), according to government sources.
South Korea’s foreign ministry is expected to announce details of the plan along with details of a broader agreement between the two countries to settle the issue of compensation for Koreans who were victims of forced labor during World War II. , the sources said.
“There is a good chance that South Korea and Japan will form a fund with the aim of looking to the future and not to the past,” a senior official told Yonhap news agency.
In 2018, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered Japanese companies Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to pay compensation to Korean victims of forced labor who were conscripted during Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. .
Both companies are expected to contribute indirectly to the new fund in the form of contributions or donations to Keidanren.
South Korea had previously offered to compensate the victims through a government foundation using donations from local companies, but it asked Japanese companies to also contribute.
Japan reportedly refused to pay any compensation, insisting that all compensation issues were settled under the 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations.
The establishment of the fund “must be understood as a comprehensive decision by President Yoon Suk Yeol looking to the future, rather than simply viewed through the prism of compensation,” another official said.
As part of the agreement between the two countries, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also expected to declare his government’s intention to inherit a joint declaration adopted in 1998 by President Kim Dae-jung and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.
In the statement, the two leaders called for overcoming the past and building new relationships, with Obuchi expressing remorse for the “horrific damage and pain” that Japan’s colonial rule inflicted on the Korean people.
Yoon is also reportedly planning to travel to Japan at the end of the month to hold a summit there with Kishida.