[Anchor Lead]
A new proposal has been made regarding the dispute over compensating victims of Japan’s wartime forced labor, and that is to establish a joint consultation body involving both sides to seek a resolution. This is the outcome of more than half a year of discussions between civic groups of Korea and Japan, and lawyers representing the victims.
“Let’s set up a joint bilateral consultation panel to review measures to resolve the forced labor issue as a whole.” This is the proposal made by Korean and Japanese civic groups and around 40 attorneys from both countries who have been helping victims of Tokyo’s wartime forced labor. The proposal was announced at a press conference in both Seoul and Tokyo on Monday. They suggested the consultation body include lawyers, scholars, politicians and economy-related officials to present a solution to the issue within a certain time frame. They did not specify a deadline but believe talks should be done within this year considering the victims’ age and the schedule of the Korean court’s execution of seizing Japanese firms’ assets. In order to promote the effectiveness of the panel, representatives of the victims argued both governments must support and respect any agreements made by the panel. While noting the Korean government and businesses play a key role in resolving the forced labor issue, they stressed that Japan must first acknowledge its human rights violations and apologize.
[Soundbite] IM JAE-SEONG(LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE OF FORCED LABOR VICTIMS) : “As the first step toward a resolution, the Japanese government and businesses must acknowledge the facts and apologize.”
Legal representatives of the victims have begun steps to push for the forced sale of Japanese firms’ assets as the companies have refused to follow the Korean court ruling. But this is proving difficult as Tokyo’s foreign ministry is refusing to deliver related paperwork. Eyes are on whether a breakthrough can be made over the longstanding

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