Nominee for South Korean Foreign Minister Vows to Uphold Compensation Plan for Forced Labor Victims

Seoul - In a recent development, the nominee for South Korea's foreign minister, Cho Tae-yul, has pledged to steadfastly support the government's initiative to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule. This commitment was revealed in documents presented to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Cho Tae-yul, who has been nominated as South Korea's new foreign minister, emphasized his dedication to the government's plan. This plan involves compensating the victims through a foundation funded by South Korean companies. Cho's nomination has gained particular attention due to his alleged involvement in a judicial power abuse scandal linked to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae. Cho, serving as the second vice foreign minister at the time, was accused of consulting with a senior court official, also implicated in the scandal, regarding the appeal trial filed by victims seeking compensation from Japan for forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Yang Sung-tae, who is awaiting sentencing later this month, is accused of using trials as leverage in negotiations with the government of President Park Geun-hye to advance his own interests. The forced labor compensation cases were among these politically sensitive trials.

Cho stated in his written response to the parliament that he believes the government's solution should be pursued unwaveringly. He highlighted the Yoon Suk Yeol government's resolution to address the forced labor issue, which he described as a plan that balances the Supreme Court's ruling requiring Japanese companies to provide compensation with the 1965 treaty, cited by Japan as settling all claims from the colonial period.

Cho's commitment extends to ensuring the rights of the victims and their families and facilitating their recovery process. Notably, Cho has not been charged by the prosecution in connection with the scandal.

In March last year, the Yoon government announced a plan to compensate the forced labor victims without seeking contributions from Japanese companies, leading to improved relations between South Korea and Japan. However, last month, the Supreme Court upheld rulings in favor of the Korean plaintiffs, asserting that the state-to-state settlement does not nullify individuals' rights to claim damages.

Furthermore, Cho highlighted the significance of enhancing relations with China, South Korea's largest trading partner and a key player in addressing the North Korean nuclear issue. He emphasized the need for cooperation on regional and global issues while maintaining clear positions on national sovereignty, regime, and identity matters.

On the topic of South Korea's potential nuclear armament, Cho reaffirmed the government's stance, underscoring U.S. extended deterrence as the most practical and preferred solution.

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