WASHINGTON: The United States applauded plans announced by South Korea to compensate victims of Japan’s forced wartime labor, as President Joe Biden on Monday hailed the agreement as a “historic breakthrough” between two American allies.
Seoul has looked to forge closer ties with Tokyo as a way to counter nuclear-armed North Korea, and the United States has described its trilateral relations with South Korea and Japan as central to Indo-Pacific regional stability.
“Two of our closest allies, Japan and the Republic of Korea, have reached a historic breakthrough,“ Biden said on Twitter.
“The United States stands with the people of both nations as we all move towards a safer, more secure, and more prosperous future.”
Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington applauded Seoul and Tokyo “for their courage and vision, and call on the international community to join our commendation of this momentous achievement.”
South Korea-Japan ties have long been strained over Tokyo’s brutal 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula.
Around 780,000 Koreans were conscripted into forced labor by Japan during the 35-year occupation, according to data from Seoul, not including women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops.
Seoul’s plan is to take money from major South Korean companies that benefited from a 1965 reparations deal with Tokyo and use it to compensate victims, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin said.
Victims have criticized the proposal because it falls far short of their demand for a full apology from Tokyo and direct compensation from the Japanese companies involved. – AFP