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Monday, January 17, 2005

Sixty years on...

This year will see the 60th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule (August 15, 1945), but it's also the 40th anniversary of the Park Chung-hee regime's diplomatic normalisation agreement with the Japanese government. As a result of pressure the present-day government has today released 1,200 pages of documents relating to these negotiations, causing an instantaneous storm of protest and compensation claims.

It turns out that the Park regime used the estimated 1.03 million Koreans who had been forced into military service or sexual slavery during the Pacfic War as a bargaining chip in the negotiations. It asked for $360 million and actually got $300 million, but only a few thousand people were actually compensated and the rest of the money is thought to have been used for construction projects in Park's inimitable 'developmental dictatorship' style.

The good news is that this looks as though it could cause a few headaches for both governments:

<>The Association for Victims of the Pacific War said that it will take legal action against both governments for failing to compensate those forcibly conscripted for labor and military service under Japanese colonial rule.
"The Treaty on Basic Relations Between the Republic of Korea and Japan signed in 1965 is the outcome of a collaboration between the two governments that ignored the rights of individuals,'' Yang Sun-im, president of the association, said.
Just as startling is the fact that the back wages Japan was supposed to pay to the victims run to the tune of 1.63 trillion yen at today's currency value (I make that around 8.5 billion pounds, I think).


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