South Korean President Moon sacks economic policy chiefs

The high-profile appointments came amid criticism that Moon Jae-In’s signature policies such as big minimum wage increases and a shorter work week had backfired. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
0

South Korean President Moon sacks economic policy chiefs

  • Moon Jae-In has replaced chief presidential policy aide Jang Ha-sung and finance minister Kim Dong-yeon
  • The move widely seen as intended to reinforce his controversial policies

SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has fired both his top economic policymakers and replaced them with people already in the government, his office said on Friday, a move widely seen as intended to reinforce his controversial policies.
Moon has replaced chief presidential policy aide Jang Ha-sung and finance minister Kim Dong-yeon, the two most senior policymakers in charge of running Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the presidential office announced.
It was a bigger reshuffle than expected, but the appointment of their successors from within the government indicated President Moon would reinforce his economic policies, which economists have said were hurting growth.
Presidential social policy aide Kim Soo-hyun will succeed Jang and veteran bureaucrat Hong Nam-ki, currently head of the government policy co-ordination office, will be the new finance minister, the presidential office said.
The incoming chief presidential policy aide has been behind harsh regulatory measures aimed at curbing housing prices, which many analysts have said were against market principles.
The incoming finance minister has served at various government departments such as the finance ministry and the presidential office. He is still required to appear at a parliamentary verification hearing although approval there is not mandatory.
The high-profile appointments came amid criticism that Moon’s signature policies such as big minimum wage increases and a shorter work week had backfired, with lower income earners — the intended beneficiaries — feeling the most pain as employers cut back hiring.
South Korea’s minimum wages are set to be raised by nearly 30 percent over two years and the work week has been cut by almost a quarter for big companies, but initial outcomes have been a plunge in employment rates and lower incomes.
The outgoing finance minister, who has served since June last year as Moon’s first top economic policy planner, has repeatedly clashed with Jang by calling for some adjustment of the president’s ‘income-led growth’ strategy.
The economy saw growth in the July-September quarter holding steady from the previous quarter at 0.6 percent, but missing the market expectations as construction spending plunged by the most in two decades.
Private consumption held up on increased welfare support but a sharp cut in infrastructure spending and strong controls on property transactions clouded the outlook at a time when the global demand for South Korea’s exports is cooling.


Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

Updated 24 April 2019
0

Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

  • An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996
  • The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time

TOKYO: Japan’s government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering “sincere remorse and heartfelt apology” to the victims.
His apology comes just after the parliament enactment earlier Wednesday of legislation to provide redress measures, including $28,600 (¥3.2 million) compensation for each victim.
An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants” and allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.
The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.
The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time.
The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation package to make amends for the victims.
The plaintiffs are seeking about ¥30 million each ($268,000) in growing legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government’s implementation of the law violated the victims’ right to self-determination, reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are too small for their suffering.
In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses, according to Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to them for its forced isolation policy.