Wartime labor rulings cast dark clouds on Japan-S Korea ties

By Noriyuki Suzuki

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From the Korea Herald, 29 November 2018: “South Korea’s top court on Thursday ruled in favor of Korean victims who were forced into labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, ordering a Japanese company to compensate them for their unpaid work and reaffirming that an international treaty does not negate an individual’s rights to seek damages”

This is judicial reasoning of the SK Supreme Court. From the above article, “Osamu Ota, a professor well-versed in modern Korean history at Doshisha University in Kyoto {noting Japanese and South Korean differences regarding international law declared] “...it is far from a ‘reckless move’ (as described by Japan).”

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

As long as Japanese politicians keep denying or mitigating wartime atrocities, this issue will not be settled. It is amusing and astonishing how Japanese politicians repeatedly make inflammatory statements about wartime atrocities that would not be tolerated in other countries.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

For the sake of mutual harmony Mitsubishi would do best to pay the plaintiffs. The collective sum is paltry and the company would look better for having done the right thing. And South Korean and Japan relations would be better than they are now.

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Im curious. Seeing as Japan times new management requires revision of forced labour to wartime labour, is it safe to assume Japan today's in the same situation? And the other thing that makes me lol is that the entirety of the global web is inundated with historical records related to such events. How exactly does whitewashing crimes negate this fact? Im truly curious.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Wallace, I believe that the Japan Times’ new policy of calling “forced labor” “war time labor” is an internal decision. Anyway, until further notice I’ll call “comfort women” sex slaves and “forced labor” slave labor. Note, the Korean Herald uses “forced labor” in regard to the plaintiffs who won a Supreme Court judgement against two Japanese companies.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

"wartime labor"? Really? Oh, I'm sure they were paid well and treated fairly.

For shame.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

the rest of the world really needs to put pressure on Japan about these things. They obviously don't listen to the very people they have damaged, perhaps they'll listen to their big brother the US

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

Whatever it takes to protect the reputation of those who perpetrated the wars, and the corporations on whose behalf it was fought. The war was not about gaining territory per se, or bringing enlightenment and liberation to those suffering under European colonial rule, it was about grabbing up resources - mineral wealth for a nascent industrial Japan, Inc. mistakenly driven by its first military success against a European power in 1906...

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

The money was paid in 1965. Why does Japanese government or Japanese firms need to pay the second time?

Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Settlement of Problems in Regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation (1965)

Article II

3 As a condition to comply with the provisions of paragraph 2 above, no claims shall be made with respect to the measures relating to the property, rights, and interests of either High Contracting Party and its people which were brought under the control of the other High Contracting Party on the date of the signing of the present Agreement, or to all the claims of either High Contracting Party and its people arising from the causes which occurred prior to that date.

The compensation for the damages caused by legal or illegal acts before 1965 was all settled by the payment in 1965.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Japan has done things that were wrong and upset individuals and nations. These things will never be "undone". These things will never be forgotten. If Japan truly wishes for forgiveness it must tackle each issue that arises with compassion. The 1965 agreement with the Government of South Korea was about Government to Government issues so that relations could resume. It did not address issues with individuals who were ill treated as slave labor. Japan refuses to deal with these issues and sadly it is not viewed favorably by other countries when it does so. The war was not the choice of these individuals it was Japans choice. Being coerced into slave labor was not the individuals choice as a career path, Japan gave them no other choice.

These issues connected to war time behavior by Japanese companies, Japanese government and Japanese Military personnel will not just go away. I wonder if many in Japan even get what the issues are. Without understanding there will be no amends. That means these issues will dog Japan and its relationship with other Asian nations for decades to come.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

“The money was paid in 1965.” Obviously it was not paid fully or there would not have been this lawsuit. Note what the SK Supreme Court ruled. Individuals can still file civil suits regardless of what of international laws might say. This was not a suit against the Japanese government. It was a civil suit against private companies, which is to say persons. This is a problem that originated in South Korea and was brought to closure in South Korea. The Japanese government has no right to butt into this business at all.

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

Here is a document made in 1965 that lists what is included, but is not limited to, in the payment made in accordance with the 1965 agreement.


要綱5 被徴用韓人未収金、補償金及びその他の請求権

Point 5. Unreceived money, compensation and other claims of conscripted Korean workers.

The document is referred to in the letter of understanding signed by Foreign Ministers of Korea and Japan on June 22, 1965.

Without any doubt, the money was paid in 1965.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Without any doubt, the money was paid in 1965

The Japanese professor does not seem to agree with your interpretation that everything was settled in 1965.

The text you quoted from the treaty earlier certainly does not appear to cover private individuals or corporations.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Ah_soToday 09:40 pm JST

Without any doubt, the money was paid in 1965

The Japanese professor does not seem to agree with your interpretation that everything was settled in 1965.]

Unlike South Korea, Japan is a democratic society that ensures freedom of speech.

Look what is happening in SK, scholars and citizens alike are being lynched and hanged by vigilantly style kangaroo court forcing them to maintain silence.

That is not a democracy in any shape or form.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Wartime labor

So now JT too has becoming a revisionist website? It's FORCED LABOR, not ''wartime labor''. Very dissapointed at you.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Unlike South Korea, Japan is a democratic society that ensures freedom of speech

Is it April fool's today? Have you been living under a rock for the past 70 years? Japan's a one party dictatorship. Voter apathy is through the stratosphere. Atleast criminal leadership is held to account in Korea like they did with the former president unlike in Japan where crimes are whitewashed and ignored. Far from sight, far from mind. Right?

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Political experts stress the importance of a cool-headed approach by both sides.

Proper distance is needed to cool heads , some distance far far away from now on.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I cannot understand how a country that has borrowed so much in terms of modern culture from Japan would be so vindictive at the same time.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I cannot understand how a country that has borrowed so much in terms of modern culture from Japan would be so vindictive at the same time.

I'd say this is a result of institutionalized hate that causing it. Their post colonization and war period was marked with civil war and up until the late 80's economic difficulties. Meanwhile, Japan in spite of losing the war became one of the largest most successful economies/countries in human history.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I hate when it turns my comment into a quote. Sorry about that.

6 ( +6 / -0 )


reaffirming that an international treaty does not negate an individual’s rights to seek damages

Indeed, this is strictly a damages claim ruling. The Korean supreme court's interpretation of the 1965 treaty is that it doesn't cover damages, because the word "damages" appears nowhere in the treaty.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Don't blame JT. As I said the other day in the last news. That this is a labor problem. The Japanese government does not have to allocate taxpayer money to solve this issue.

You don't have to pay anything either. Much less say anything.

This is an exclusive affair between Japanese companies and a number of victims of slave labor. And they should be compensated with exclusively private money. With only private investment funds.

Public money is totally excluded in this matter.

That is how this same problem would be solved if this were to happen in Europe. At least that is how I see it from a point of view as a European citizen.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Ridiculous. Individual rights to claim whatever (including the people vs the other people) resolved completely and irreversibly. Those exist only when be claimed toward Korean Government where lump-sum money was paid to, or return all of it first with interest before flipping the table over.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

CH3CHOToday  10:19 am JST

Now, Moon administration of South Korea is arresting the former Supreme Court Judges who were un-sympathetic to the Korean conscripted workers.

Korea Joomg Ang Daily December 4, 2018

*The prosecution’s revelation about the raid, which emerged on the same day that they filed for the arrests of two former Supreme Court Justices, signals that investigators are ramping up their probe into the power abuse scandal. The prosecution is reportedly planning to summon the prime suspect in the case, former Chief Justice Yang, in the next few days. *


See a Kangaroo type court happening in SK to shut anyone that goes the mass. If this is not a vigilantly type lynch then what is?

I have NEVER heard of Supreme Court Justices being arrested for a ruling they had handed down during their tenure on the seat in a democratic society.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

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