While I recognise and have sympathy for past wrongs inflicted on the Koreans (by Japan), the current round of tension is instigated by the left in Korea (aka Moon’s choice and staged for a political purpose, rather than a real concern for victims). The Korean left think war with Japan is preferable to fighting the North Koreans. In contrast, the Japanese have no desire or intention to fight the South Koreans (if you read the Japanese position in their white papers) — further in any war on the Korean peninsular, the Japan will be used to stage supplies (aka function as ally).
I suspect that a war with Japan is indeed preferable to a war with the DPRK. After all the DPRK has a giant military, with nuclear, and chemical, and biological weapons. The damage would be considerable, followed by the massive problem of what to do with a defeated North Korean population, mountains of uncontrolled weapons, and the inevitable lash-back from the younger generation of North Koreans. A small war with Japan on the other hand, while less winnable (in my opinion at least) would certainly come with far lower costs. I think in terms of objective consequences a defeat from Japan is potentially preferable to a victory over North Korea. All of that having been said, are there any indications that SK is actually prepared to go to war with Japan?
speaks on your point in his post. Feel free to read his point of view — link was also previously provided 2 posts up. You don’t have to agree with it but you should know that the current Korean Government made a choice. Unlike President Moon, former President Park, for example, sought to put to rest the comfort women dispute with a deal several years ago. The South Korean left under Moon rejects this outreach and emphasizes, often with great militancy, Japan’s need to apologize continuously. The current leftist president has abandoned Park’s comfort women deal and has made no effort to head off the emerging legal battle.
I think the second comment to the article in the link provided is very insightful. While I don't know much about this issue I'm reluctant to take a single view point as necessarily "correct" without additional context, and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if a right-wing politician's idea of "putting to rest" the issue consists of essentially burying the legitimate claims that do exist in the name of economic expediency. There is a far bigger trend of countries seeking to re-write the history on WWII, including many European nations, and consequently the increased insistence of others on maintaining the emphasis of the wrong-ness of certain actions and certain parties. So I wouldn't be surprised if that plays its role here, especially as Japan is slowly moving away from its own originally highly pacifist foreign policy.
I think that there are also a few other things to consider. If we value an independent judiciary, then should the president really be interfering or "heading off" legal battles? And if he does "head off" the battle, and shut down the claim, where does it leave those parts of the public who supported it? Essentially ignored? I think letting the legal battle play out, and allowing the outcome to fall where it may is mark of a true separation of powers between an executive acting as an executive rather then as a politician, though where such principled action is advisable here... well as I said, both sides should want this over and quick.
I agree that faster is better but it’s not going to occur unless the left in Korea is willing to meet Japan in the middle.
Japan in principle owes reparations and refuses to acknowledge them, despite Japanese companies doing business in SK and therefore being subject to their legislation and court rulings, what exactly is the middle ground here? "Heading off" the legal battle, and ignoring the victim's asking for compensation? That hardly strikes me as a middle ground. So while compromise (in my opinion) is the reasonable option, and I do agree with you that if SK is to get any remotely satisfactory resolution here, they will have to compromise, my question is - what is Japan willing to compromise on? Especially considering that 1) Japan is bigger politically, economically, and militarily, 2) Japan has so far refused to pay these reparations and ignored the court ruling.
I think we will see more in the upcoming talks, and I don't think simply blaming the SK "leftists" for this crisis is entirely correct. I think the initial post-war settlement was not particularly fair to many (the powers that be at that time were eager to move past the issue rather then dwell on it but that came at a cost), and I think that right-wingers in both SK and Japan would rather let sleeping dogs lie until all the victims are dead, and the issue is moot, rather than compromise mutually profitable arrangements to reach a better resolution to this conflict that won't give them any benefits, instead being aimed at acknowledging past wrongs and compensating the victims.