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No winners in Korea-Japan trade dispute

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By Chang Se-moon

I feel sad to see that political leaders in Japan and Korea are acting as if they never read my July 5, 2015, article in this newspaper on the same trade issue that is now damaging both economies.

My story goes back to Nov. 1, 2013. On that day, a court in the southwestern city of Gwangju, Korea, ruled in favor of four Korean women who were forced to work for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan during World War II. The court awarded them 150 million won ($126,700) each.

Earlier in July 2013, high courts in Seoul and Busan also ordered Nippon Steel Corp. to pay compensation demanded by victims of forced labor in their factories.

The root of the problem with any attempt to resolve the forced labor issue is the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco with Japan and the 1965 Korea-Japan Basic Treaty that made it almost, if not totally, impossible for individual Korean victims of Japan's wartime atrocities to recover any monetary damages that they may have suffered.

A similar view has also been expressed by the ad hoc committee on the compensation issue that was appointed by the then President Roh Moo-hyun who governed South Korea from 2003 to 2008. In essence, the committee stated that, other than limited exceptions, all individual rights for compensation relating to forced labor........

© The Korea Times