South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said at a joint press conference with the Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that a plan to solve the problem of lawsuits related to former wartime workers from the Korean Peninsula has laid the groundwork for the two countries to discuss future-oriented development of their relationship.
The plan, announced by the South Korean government on March 6, calls for a South Korean foundation to pay plaintiffs an amount equivalent to court ordered compensation in lieu of the two defendant Japanese companies, and does not presume funding from the Japanese companies.
This announcement was widely perceived as a concession to Japan in South Korea.
From that perspective, South Koreans were paying attention to how far Yoon could draw out Japan's responses at the meeting. There are calls to seek a fresh apology from Japan and donations from the Japanese companies to the South Korean foundation in South Korea.
At the press conference after the meeting, Kishida expressed his intention to maintain the position of successive cabinets on historical recognition, including the 1998 Japan-Korea Joint Declaration, which clearly states Japan's deep remorse and heartfelt apology for colonial rule.
Yoon cited Japan s announcement that it would lift its restrictions on exports of three items, including semiconductor-related materials, to South Korea as an achievement at the same press conference.
Yoon is likely to be an achievement as both countries plan to create a fund for youth exchanges, as well as a plan to establish a fund for projects in fields such as youth exchanges.
It is not known whether these efforts will assuade opposition inside South Korea.
During the press conference, a South Korean reporter pressed Yoon: What is the national interest we can get from this meeting? Yoon stressed that the national interests of Seoul and Tokyo are not a zero-sum game. Yoon said that an improved relationship would benefit South Korea in its response to North Korea's missile launches.
Some plaintiffs in South Korea have shown a willingness to continue their court battle despite their opposition to the planned solution. The solutions are being criticized as a servile tributary diplomacy as a servile tributary diplomacy in anticipation of a general election in April next year, according to the left-wing Democratic Party of Korea, the largest opposition party.
Kishida said he would continue to produce results at the press conference. Yoon hopes that such remarks by Kishida will lead to further steps by Japan on the issues of former requisitioned workers.