CEAC Commentary

August 21, 2019 

US in Position to Persuade ROK

to Accept Judicial Proceedings


According to a report of the Jiji Press, on recent deterioration of relationship between Japan and the Republic of Korea, a high-level governmental official of the United States issued the statement that both the governments of Japan and Korea were to be blamed for it evenly. It can be explained that the U.S. government fears the denial of the renewal of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) by the government of the Republic of Korea, which was concluded between Japan and the Republic of Korea in order to confront the military threats of China, Russia and North Korea.

But it seems that the Republic of Korea should take the responsibility for it rather than Japan should. Because the recent intensification of mutual antipathy between Japan and the Republic of Korea was arisen from a series of judgments made by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea, by which the respondent Japanese companies were rendered to pay compensation to the Korean plaintiffs. This may be the reason why most of Japanese people were disappointed at the above-mentioned statement. Therefore, if the government of the U.S. intends to reconcile these two countries, the most proper and appropriate measure corresponding to this situation is to remind the government of the Republic of Korea of its obligation to observe the international law.

The U.S. was involved in this problem regarding the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea since the beginning in the first place. The U.S. government had played supporting role and had acted as intermediary in the process of the negotiations between Japan and the Republic of Korea until their diplomatic relations was normalized in 1965; on the 22nd June, 1965, Japan joined the Agreement.

In fact, during the negotiation period, each governments had often sought advices from the government of the U.S., whenever they hit a deadlock. On the whole, it seems that the U.S. stood by the Republic of Korea, because the Korean War ruined its land and impoverished Korean people considerably. In addition to that, the pro-Korean attitude of the U.S. might have been taken due to the participation of the force of the Republic of Korean in the Vietnam War considered.

After some rough going, a final word from the U.S. government ended this long-pending issue; the government of Japan could not help resigning any claims the Korean government and of its nationals. Furthermore, Japan supplied to the Republic of Korea 300 million USD in grants and extended the loans up to 200 million USD with obeying the Article I of the Agreement. This total amount of financial aids far exceeded that of the claims from the Korean side calculated on the basis of adequate or legal grounds. It is no exaggeration to say that the government of Japan compromised not with the Republic of Korea but rather with the U.S.

Looking over the past process of the negotiations, it is obvious that the U.S. took part in this negotiation with staying in the background and that the U.S. was a kind of ‘alive witness’ who had observed all the details; the real drafter of this Agreement might have been the government of the U.S. While Japan suffered from one-sided loss by this Agreement, the diplomatic normalization between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965 might be one of the fruits of the foreign or security policy of the U.S. in the Cold War era.

Therefore, the U.S. government must recognize well that both of the governments concluded this Agreement at that time on the condition that any claims from the Korean side, including unpaid wages of the requisition of labors, should “settled completely and finally,” and any more contention should not be made from the Korean side after that; recently, so as to appeal this common consent, the government of Japan came to release a part of official documents into public as incontrovertible evidence for it.

This is the very reason why the U.S. should be in the position to require South Korea to follow the Agreement faithfully. And in this context, we hope that the government of the U.S. persuades the Republic of Korea positively to accept judicial proceedings, especially since the Article III stipulates setting up of an arbitration board as the measure for settlements of any disputes concerning the interpretation and implementation of the Agreement.

(This is an English translation of the article written by KURANISHI Masako, Political Scientist, which originally appeared on the e-forum “Hyakka-Somei (Hundred Ducks in Full Voice)” of CEAC on August 6, 2019.)