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South Korea to compensate
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday announced that the government would repay the citizens who were the victims of forced labor under Japanese colonization during World War II. Many believe that this move by the government has been made to strengthen their relations with Japan and United States, at the time when the country is facing nuclear threats from North Korea.
The decision by the government drew immediate retaliation from the victims and their families. They demand that the compensation and a fresh apology should be made by the Japanese government. While Japan’s government welcomed the decision by stating that the step by the Korean government would lead to a healthy relation between Japan and South Korea.
The money for the compensation would be taken from South Korean companies who benefited from 1965 treaty and some from the donations made by the civilians. As of now no contribution has been made by the Japanese government.
The lawyer of one of the victims said that it is a victory for Japan, which is not even paying one yen to the victims. for the damages they’ve done.
The negotiation between Japan and South Korea on this matter has been going on for a long time. In 2018, South Korea’s court passed a judgment that ordered Japan’s Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation to compensate wartime forced laborers, but the company refused to pay claiming that the issue was already resolved through 1965 treaty signed between the two nations.
Who are these Forced Laborers?
During World War II, when there was shortage of labor in Japan many Koreans were brought to work in mainland Japan as Korea was under the Japanese rule. They were forced to work in factories and mines under poor conditions. According to reports, 60,000 out of 670,000 Korean laborers, who were brought to Japan between 1939- 1945 died due to appalling work conditions.
The recruitment in 1939 was done by the private companies under government supervision, but the new method was introduced in which the government was more directly involved in the recruitment process. Between 270,000 and 810,000 Korean laborers in Korea and Manchuria died. Around 200,000 women from Korea, China, Taiwan and from other colonies were forced into sexual slavery and came to be known as “comfort women”. Many women were also forced to do hard physical labor such as building roads, digging graves.
What settlement was made in 1965 Treaty?
The treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was signed on June 22, 1965. Settlements related to property, claims and economic cooperation was also signed. Under which, Japan paid $800 million as “reparation fee” to South Korea. Most of the money was used for the national development by the government.
US president Joe Biden also welcomed the announcement and considered the move as groundbreaking.