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  • [Our Proposal] What is wrongly referred to as “requisitioned” and or “compulsorily recruited” laborers (from the Korean Peninsula in the wartime past) should be correctly called “wartime Korean workers”
2018.11.14 (Wed) Print

[Our Proposal] What is wrongly referred to as “requisitioned” and or “compulsorily recruited” laborers (from the Korean Peninsula in the wartime past) should be correctly called “wartime Korean workers”

[Our Proposal]
What is wrongly referred to as “requisitioned” and or “compulsorily recruited” laborers (from the Korean Peninsula in the wartime past) should be correctly called “wartime Korean workers”

[An account in detail]

The processes of Japan’s wartime labor mobilization on the Korean Peninsula during World War II were categorized into three types, depending on when the mobilization was implemented: recruitment by private-sector companies on their own; employment by private companies through the good offices of the government; and “requisition” through the application of theNational Requisition Ordinance, an imperial edict that was in effect nationwide in the closing phase of the war. Irrespective of these categories, Koreans were all employed by privately operated companies, getting paid well in general.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in reply to an interpellation in a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on November 1, stated as follows in reference to South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling that ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Co. to pay monetary compensations to four plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“As a matter of the use of language, the Japanese government is convinced that the expression of ‘requisitioned laborers’ is not adequate [as regards the litigation in South Korea], but [the four plaintiffs] should be called ‘laborers hailing from the former Korean Peninsula.’ They all got employment in response at their own discretion to ‘recruitment’ by the company.”

The prime minister’s statement is quite right.
(cf. “South Korean High Court Ignores Wartime Facts” in “Speaking Out” column No.553 of our website)

When it comes to news reports, however, the wrong expression of “requisitioned laborers” has still been used in abundance. In addition, not only news media abroad but also those in Japan – such as the English versions of The Asahi Shimbun and Kyodo News as well as The Japan Times, an English-language daily – have frequently been using the English term “forced labor” in connection with the South Korean litigation. We cannot help but consider the usage of the language as a blatant mistranslation detrimental to a correct comprehension of history.

We, therefore, would like to come out with the proposal that the wording of “wartime Korean workers” be used as a generic term to mean people from the Korean Peninsula who worked in Japan during the wartime.

*The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, has adopted an English translation of the four South Korean plaintiffs in question as “former workers from the Korean Peninsula,” effective from November 9.

Eproposal