Saturday’s Asahi alleged that the Moon administration made an informal proposal to the GOJ this spring on resolving the requisitioned workers dispute by saying that if the Japanese companies involved agree to offer compensation, the ROK government would refund the full amount later. The Japanese side reportedly turned down the proposal on the grounds that even if the Japanese firms do not have to bear a financial burden in real terms, the idea would still constitute the enforcement of the rulings issued by the South Korean Supreme Court two years ago that the GOJ insists run counter to international law. The daily speculated that the GOJ rejected the proposal out of concern that accepting it would prompt more South Korean victims to file similar suits demanding compensation from their wartime Japanese employers. The daily added, however, that Prime Minister Suga’s approach toward Seoul to dealing with the history dispute may be less hardline than former Prime Minister Abe’s.
In a related story, Saturday’s Mainichi conjectured that on account of its victim-oriented approach to resolving history disputes with Japan, the Moon administration may not be able to accept any resolution of the forced labor dispute other than a payment of compensation by Japanese firms, which Tokyo would never accept. The paper claimed that sources of bilateral friction are increasing rather than decreasing, citing such issues as the discharge of the Fukushima radioactive water into the ocean and the installation of a comfort woman statue in Germany. The daily noted that some GOJ officials are pessimistic about the outlook for bilateral relations, with one of them saying: “There will be little choice for Japan but to take a wait-and-see attitude as long as President Moon is in office.”