South Korea launched a foundation on Sunday to support forced laborers mobilized by colonial Japan and their family members after more than two years of preparations.
The foundation will spearhead diverse projects to honor the victims and to care for their families, as well as conduct research on the history of the matter, a commission under the Prime Minister's Office that has been handling the issue said.
The entity's tentative name translated into English is the "Foundation to Support Victims of Forced Labor by Japan."
Millions of Koreans are believed to have been forcibly drafted as workers during Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45, with some of them stranded as far away as in Russia at the end of World War II, when the colonial domination was brought to a close. Japan is also accused of sexually enslaving more than 200,000 women from Korea and other Asian nations to serve Japanese soldiers.
The Japanese government and companies that used forced laborers have refused to make any compensation, claiming that all issues including monetary reparations were resolved by a 1965 treaty that normalized ties between Seoul and Tokyo.
The Korean government earmarked 3.3 billion won (US$3.2
million) for the operation of the foundation this year, and top steelmaker POSCO will chip in the first batch of some 3 billion won in 2014 out of the 10 billion won that it promised to invest for three years.
The commission said that the foundation is expected to discuss with the Japanese government and companies their monetary contribution.
Korean courts in recent years have made a flurry of rulings in favor of Korean men and women who were forced to work for Japanese firms, including Mitsubishi, an industrial conglomerate, during the colonial rule. (Yonhap)