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Tsutomu Nishioka

【#461】Make Fact-based Rebuttal over Requisitioned Korean Workers

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2017.08.23 (Wed)

August 21, 2017

     South Korean President Moon Jae In told a press conference on August 17 that Korean workers requisitioned for Mitsubishi and other Japanese companies before the end of World War II still had rights to seek compensation from the companies, reversing Seoul’s official position that all postwar compensation claims had been settled under a Tokyo-Seoul agreement in 1965. Tokyo immediately protested against the statement, which was criticized by all major Japanese news media including the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that has been sympathetic to South Korea over bilateral historical problems.

Japan’s apology policy led to Moon’s statement
     In fact, however, Moon’s statement was induced by some Japanese politicians, foreign ministry officials and Asahi. In his speech on August 15, Moon said:
     “Meanwhile, many Japanese politicians and intellectuals have made efforts to face the past bilateral relations and Japan’s responsibilities. Those efforts have contributed to the future-oriented development of Korea-Japan relations. We must ensure that such historical perception will not change depending on Japan’s domestic political conditions.” (Underlined by the author)
     President Moon virtually gave high marks to the apology policy of former Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and Asahi that calls for making apology first without checking facts and paying money in the name of humanitarian assistance. In contrast, Moon practically criticized the present government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Sankei Shimbun newspaper for pursuing a fair and just policy of saying what Japan should say based on facts.
     In my book titled “Deep Chasm of Japan-Korea Misunderstanding” published in 1992, I made the following points. In the past 25 years, the situation has worsened further. However, I have no choice but to make the same points.
     “What I want to say loudly is that Japanese and South Korean people concerned, particularly those in mass media, should give priority to clarifying facts and discontinue to incite Japan-Korea national confrontation.
     “If things remain unchanged, serious people in Japan will growingly dissociate from South Korea. The changing process from “disfavoring Korea” to “dissociating from Korea” is definitely going on. As anti-Japan Japanese who give top priority to accusing Japan have stood in solidarity with Koreans who have reasons to loudly assert anti-Japan positions, mass media in both countries have made intentional false reports to amplify anti-Japan criticism. As the two governments have been influenced by these reports to take inconsistent positions, Japanese who love Japan and want to get friendly with South Korea are growingly dissociating from South Korea.”

“Conscientious” Japanese spreading false reports
     Criticisms in Japan against the Moon remark explain that Japan’s payment of $500 million under the 1965 agreement settled all South Korean compensation claims, without discussing the realities of requisitioned Korean workers. In fact, however, anti-Japan forces in Japan and South Korea have spread false reports that the legal mobilization of Korean workers represented the “coercive recruitment of Koreans for slave labor.” They include Japanese activist Toshiaki Shibata, director-general for an association for protecting human rights of Koreans in Nagasaki, who has made “fact-finding” surveys over the past 20 years on Japan’s “coercive recruitment of Koreans” and cooperated in producing a South Korean film titled “The Battleship Island.” South Korean newspapers have taken him up as a “conscientious Japanese.”
     We must systematically collect documents and testimonies about historical facts regarding requisitioned Korean workers and communicate these facts to rebut the slave labor theory. In such attempt, I authored a book titled “Truths of Japan-South Korea Historical Problems.” If you have any interests in the matter, please read the book.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the Planning Committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and Visiting Professor at Reitaku University.