Yoon, Japan’s Kishida agreed to seek quick settlement of forced labor issue: official

SEOUL– President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to seek a quick settlement of the issue of compensation for Korean victims of wartime forced labor during their summit in Cambodia earlier this week, a presidential official said Wednesday.

The official was referring to a Yoon-Kishida summit held on the sidelines of regional gatherings in Phnom Penh on Sunday, during which he said the leaders affirmed their clear commitment to resolving a “pending issue” between the two countries.

Pending issue is a reference to ongoing negotiations between the two countries over how to settle differences over a 2018 South Korean court ruling that Japanese firms should pay compensation to Korean victims of forced labor during World War II.

“The overall tone was that we should move more quickly, and that the two leaders should pay closer attention and lend further support to induce not only a resolution of the forced labor issue but also an improvement in South Korea-Japan relations,” the official told reporters.

“The tone was that since the gap has been greatly reduced, we should quickly look for ways to quickly resolve it and swiftly settle the issue,” he added.

The official also denied South Korea was closing its “diplomatic space” with China by aligning closer with the United States and Japan through its new Indo-Pacific strategy unveiled by Yoon in Phnom Penh.

“There is still plenty of diplomatic space with China,” he said, citing climate change and supply chain issues as some of the areas of cooperation on a global scale.

“We plan to combine strengths with China, and seek and actively discover the space to contribute to an expansion of our common frontier,” he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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