December 24, 2015 10:56
The Constitutional Court on Wednesday declined to review the constitutionality of a 1965 agreement with Japan that Tokyo claims settled all issues of individual compensation for victims of forced labor.
The petition was filed in 2009 by citizens whose parents were forced to labor for the Japanese during their 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea, when a local court dismissed their application to void a government decision to pay about W11.6 million in compensation (US$1=W1,177).
They argued the sum failed to reflect the current value of the money their parents would be owed, and that accepting it would restrict the rights of individuals to claim adequate compensation.
Rejecting their petition, the Constitutional Court said that the treaty, which normalized diplomatic ties between Korea and Japan, cannot be made subject to a separate legal case and added the government's calculation "reasonably reflects the currency value."
The treaty has been a main sticking point in Korean efforts to persuade Tokyo to accept responsibility for wartime atrocities like the drafting of sex slaves and forced laborers during World War.
Tokyo paid US$500 million to Seoul with an attached clause declaring that this resolves all compensatory claims. The pact has been cited by both Korean and Japanese courts to reject petitions and damage suits filed by Koreans seeking individual compensation.
The money was put into modernizing Korea rather than compensating individual victims.
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