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Should the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco be amended to allow surviving ex-POWs and their kin to take legal action for compensation against the Japanese government?

32 Comments
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How about Iraqi's taking legal action for compensation against the US government for what they suffered in the "war" that was based on a lie? If the 1951 Treaty is amended, people from Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc., should have the same right.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No, of course. This is BS. Stop pressing Japan, making its people always more frustrated and nationalist, reopening claims about something that was already settled tons of years ago. Even though it's a slightly different matter, people who agree probably should study which was Germany reaction to the very unfair Treaty of Versailles.

4 ( +10 / -5 )

If there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity under international law, wouldn't this supercede any treaty such as the Treaty of SF? Does anybody know?

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

@Alex80 Germany and German entities (such as private companies which employed slave labor) are still paying reparations to Jewish survivors. I am not saying that this shouldn't necessary be the case for Japan, but it isn't impossible to imagine that private Japanese companies that employed slave labor (such as the Aso Mining company) might be pressured into admitting the past and paying for some kind of reparations (a social fund, a slave labor memorial, etc.).

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

There is an old saying: "Sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie."

I was going to make a long post about war, history and the special legal conditions of war, but in the end, my point would have been the same.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Guillaume Varès:

It's not completely true what you are saying about Germany. For example, they refuse to accept compensation claims from Greece (and they are not baseless). Plus, probably you didn't get my point about Treaty of Versailles. How the things were handled there, with Germany being very penalized, contributed to the rise of Hitler. Learning from hystory means also not repeating these kind of mistakes. Currently, Japan is in a very weak condition. Bad economy, Fukushima, gloomy mood in general. Any kind of external pressure can only bring people to become more nationalist.

1 ( +8 / -6 )

SFPT waives compensation claims of the Allies and their citizens as well as the claims of Japan and the Japanese.

If the treaty is amended, never ending litigation from both sides will start. Japan has a very long list of civilians illegally killed by the Allies.

The following is what a US judge wrote in the judgment to a lawsuit on WW2 POW forced labor in 2000. http://www.gwu.edu/~memory/data/judicial/POWs_and_Forced_Labor_US/ClassAction/Sept212000Decision.pdf

The Treaty of Peace with Japan, insofar as it barred future claims such as those asserted by plaintiffs in these actions, exchanged full compensation of plaintiffs for a future peace. History has vindicated the wisdom of that bargain. And while full compensation for plaintiffs' hardships, in the purely economic sense, has been denied these former prisoners and countless other survivors of the war, the immeasurable bounty of life for themselves and their posterity in a free society and in a more peaceful world services the debt.

Guillaume VaresApr. 27, 2015 - 09:22AM JST

such as the Aso Mining company

All the industry in Japan was under military control at that time, the POWs were alotted by the military, and the products were for military purpose. I do not think Aso Mining was responsible for POW forced labor, or took any profit from it.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

If there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity under international law, wouldn't this supercede any treaty such as the Treaty of SF? Does anybody know?

Yes, you are right. Japan was a signatory to the first Geneva convention and they cannot sign a bilateral treaty with another country that would absolve them of their international law obligations.

However, the Geneva convention doesn't extend to financial compensation (and the SF peace treaty doesn't try to limit prosecutions under the Geneva Convention)

What's important here is that the Japanese government can only agree to change the treaty in relation to itself. In other words, only the Japanese government can agree to pay on behalf of private companies. Without first removing Article 39 of the constitution which prohibits retrospective laws, it can't change the treaty so that a private company who was previously let off the hook would now all of a sudden be liable to pay compensation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I lost family in Ww2 in E europe and after the war property was confiscated from my family by the newly Communist governemtn and the realignment of borders in E europe. i have no right to seek compensation. why should it be any different? and where does it all end? Like Greece demanding war reparations from Germany now?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

i have no right to seek compensation.

Sure you do. You may not get it, but you have the right to seek it.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

lost family in Ww2 in E europe and after the war property was confiscated from my family by the newly Communist governemtn and the realignment of borders in E europe. i have no right to seek compensation.

Some (but not all) former communist countries have restitution/compensation schemes for property restitution. For example, most of the claims have been resolved in Estonia (with property returned to original owners), while some countries have partial compensation systems (lump sum amount).

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

All of these calls for restitution, acknowledgement, and apologies do one thing and one thing only. They reaffirm your victimhood and the fact that in some form or capacity you lost a struggle or a battle. In other words, you were weak at some point, and now you want official recognition of it. These experiences are so traumatic in nature, what is money really going to do? What is an apology going to get you? Why not try to be strong and rebuild your life, get over whatever, and move on. There are no rules in war, no morality. Moral arguments are useless. Yeah that person or group was evil, but they were stronger than you were, you couldn't stop them. So now you fight back with morality and a cry for money and an apology.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No. This is getting stupid. We all know that what the Japanese did in WW2 was terrible, but come on... stop demanding money off them all the time. Do they want to Japanese to lock themselves away again?

Can you imagine how your average Japanese person feels reading the newspapers or looking at foreign news sites... enough for Pete's sake.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This may not be so far fetched idea considering US becoming more and more influenced by Koreans.

-9 ( +2 / -9 )

This can't happen. Once a treaty is signed, it's not amendable. If you want to change the provisions of an already-signed treaty, then you have to work-up a completely NEW treaty.

In the San Francisco treaty, Japan was given the option to indemnify the individual POWs and their families OR send an equivalent sum to the Red Cross so that the Red Cross could distribute the funds to the POW families as necessary. Japan chose the Red Cross option and transferred £4,500,000 to the Red Cross. The Allies, as representatives of the POWs, agreed to this when they signed the treaty. They can't change things now without writing a whole new treaty.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The answer is No, but it will happen. In the US, everything is about getting money for nothing. It is a sign of real moral decay.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Fadamor, I hope you're right. But If Americans are people who respect the rule of laws, then why are they demanding Abe apologize at the joint congress address they're inviting him to? Obama is pro-SK that anything is possible. He demanded Japan apologize over comfort women when he was in SK. They criticized Japan over shrine visit. It doesn't look like Americans are people who respect the rule of laws. The fact that this poll appeared in an American newsite shows a tendency among Americans.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Tinawatanabe,

-What does Abe being invited to congress have to do with rule of law? -Obama is pro-SK, but he is also pro-Japan. You may have seen the pictures of Abe and Obama walking together in Washington. -Abe should apologize for the sex slaves and the shrine visits. That would be the morally correct thing to do. It's been suggested a thousand times on this site's comments. Follow Germany's lead, show the past for what it was. Tell the younger generation what happened. Then Japan can improve relations with its neighbors. To obscure its past, Japan is less trustworthy. (I'm not saying that China and South Korea are better, they have their own issues). -Which American site did this poll show up on? I've only seen it here on Japan Today, which is a Japanese site.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

kanuk, First of all, sex slaves issue is fabricated story by South Korea, you don't believe it, fine. US has been using it also as a tool to bash Japan for a long time, but recently they started change its stance as Sherman, deputy Secretary of State, started mention as "so called comfort women", Japan knows that US has evidence they were not sex slaves

Japan aplogized many times to SK because they demanded many times and Japan was tiredd, each time they promised they would stop demanding if Japan said what SK wanted to hear.

But SK broke the promise each time, and started again with new demand for new apology for which they demanded Japan included in the previous apology which was fabricated story by SK.

To make the long story short, Japan is not obscuring. Japan knows the truth. Bashing is not scientic attitude. You have to ask why instead of bashing.

That would be the morally correct thing to do.

Are you god or something?

Then Japan can improve relations with its neighbors.

Guess what. Japan IS improving relations with USA and China. So, you're totally wrong And for the good measure, Japan's relation with SK is getting worse, which SK deserves. The things are moving very favorably for Japan.

Which American site did this poll show up on?

Japan Today, which is American operated site with Japanese name in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What does Abe being invited to congress have to do with rule of law?

Abe being demanded to apologize over something settled by law is against rule of laws.

That would be the morally correct thing to do.

Japan knows what's morally correct thing to do. .

Then Japan can improve relations with its neighbors.

Japan is improving relations with USA and China. Haven't you notice?

Which American site did this poll show up on?

JapanToday

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Fadamor, I hope you're right. But If Americans are people who respect the rule of laws, then why are they demanding Abe apologize at the joint congress address they're inviting him to?

What does this have to do with a treaty? There was no treaty signed that specified Japan had to only apologize ONCE. And just because our Congress is demanding something of a foreign leader does NOT mean the foreign leader has to comply. Abe can stand before the joint session of Congress and say absolutely NOTHING about WWII, and Congress can't do a thing about it. The U.S. Congress (despite how they like to act) does not have any control over foreign nations. The BEST that they could do would be to adjust relations via trade and travel restrictions with the U.S.

Obama is pro-SK that anything is possible. He demanded Japan apologize over comfort women when he was in SK.

I haven't found anything that says that. What I HAVE found is the transcript of Obama and S.K. President Park's press conference in April of last year where the comfort women issue was discussed. Here's what he said in that speech:

Finally, with respect to the historical tensions between South Korea and Japan, I think that any of us who look back on the history of what happened to the comfort women here in South Korea, for example, have to recognize that this was a terrible, egregious violation of human rights. Those women were violated in ways that, even in the midst of war, was shocking. And they deserve to be heard; they deserve to be respected; and there should be an accurate and clear account of what happened.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/25/press-conference-president-obama-and-president-park-republic-korea

He said the comfort women need to be heard, but he NEVER "demanded Japan apologize over comfort women when he was in SK."

The fact that this poll appeared in an American newsite shows a tendency among Americans.

JapanToday is an "American news site"? It's my impression that most of the commenters here are from the British Commonwealth. The news site seems to be Japanese, not American. From the site's "About Us" page:

Japan Today, launched in September 2000, is a Tokyo-based online newspaper, featuring all the latest news on Japan and the world, including national, political, entertainment, business, technology and sports news.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There was no treaty signed that specified Japan had to only apologize ONCE.

Japan has been apologizing manay many times. How many times do you want?

The BEST that they could do would be to adjust relations via trade and travel restrictions with the U.S.

If Abe didn't apologize? That does not sound like people who respect the rule of law.

He said the comfort women need to be heard

He did not say anything about it when he was in Japan. He said it in SK. Besides that, US lower house congress voted demanding Japan apologize over comfort women, which resolution was led by Nancy Pelocy. Many states are erecting comfort women statues, etc. You don't know how much these things are hurting Japanese people's feelings. The part you quoted is equivalent to Obama's criticizm on Japan's handling over the issue. It's obvious that Obama does not know in detail the efforts Japan has been making including apologies and payments.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@tinawatanabe,

Japan has been apologizing manay many times. How many times do you want?

Me, personally? The surrender was "apology" enough for me. Of course I wasn't born until 15 years after the surrender was signed so I don't have much invested in the aftermath of the war. People who were alive at the time and experienced treatment at the hands of wartime Japan might have a different view than I.

If Abe didn't apologize? That does not sound like people who respect the rule of law.

Actually that sounds like people who are following the letter of the law. Congress is authorized by our Constitution to approve or deny trade agreements made by the government, and they also can influence the State Department on visa rules and quotas.

He did not say anything about it when he was in Japan. He said it in SK. Besides that, US lower house congress voted demanding Japan apologize over comfort women, which resolution was led by Nancy Pelocy. Many states are erecting comfort women statues, etc. You don't know how much these things are hurting Japanese people's feelings. The part you quoted is equivalent to Obama's criticizm on Japan's handling over the issue. It's obvious that Obama does not know in detail the efforts Japan has been making including apologies and payments.

He said it in S.K. because he was ASKED about it in S.K. Was he asked about it in Japan? Somehow I doubt it.

What Congress does or doesn't do rarely is the result of being told to do so by the President.

If cities (NOT "States") decide to erect memorials to the comfort women issue, again, the President has nothing to do with that.

With regards to the President's remarks being "criticizm on Japan's handling over the issue", yep! You're correct. Japan has totally botched the handling of this issue from the very beginning when they apologized without investigating and discovering that the former IJA officer and the newspaper propping him up were peddling fiction.

But all this deftly tries to avoid "the elephant in the room". You LIED when you claimed that "(Obama) demanded Japan apologize over comfort women when he was in SK." There was no "demand". Heck, there wasn't even a "recommend" or a "suggest"! The various forms of the word "apology" were never uttered by Obama. You pretend to be so concerned about "people who respect the rule of law" while making a mockery of "people who respect the truth".

Please explain to me why we should believe a single additional word you type?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No.

Stop digging up wars that are long over.

That is all.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Fadamor

What Congress does or doesn't do rarely is the result of being told to do so by the President.

The President signed the resolution and it became official that US demands Japan apologize about it.

You LIED when you claimed that "(Obama) demanded Japan apologize over comfort women when he was in SK."

It is equivalent to demand. If you live in Japan, ask the Japanese people how they took Obama's speech in SK.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@tinawatanabe

If you live in Japan, ask the Japanese people how they took Obama's speech in SK.

If your rightist opinions -as you constantly claim - are so representative of the Japanese people, why do Uyoku need such ear-splittingly loud speaker trucks?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Fadamor

The President signed the resolution and it became official that US demands Japan apologize about it.

Really? So the President of the U.S. signs the literally THOUSANDS of resolutions that Congress passes each year? I suggest you learn a bit about the operation of the U.S. Government before you make any more false statements. Here's the "Cliff Notes" version with regards to Congressional Resolutions:

The President doesn't ever SEE a resolution unless it's a "joint resolution" passed by BOTH houses. The overwhelming majority of resolutions passed in Congress are "simple resolutions" expressing the views of that particular House of Congress. H.RES.121 - the resolution you're referring to - was passed in the House of Representatives on July 30, 2007... BEFORE Obama assumed office. President Bush did not sign-off on H.RES.121 because as a single-House resolution, it does not go to the President for his signature. The Senate never passed an equivalent resolution to H.RES.121 so all the resolution does is state the House of Representatives opinion. It's not a law, and doesn't get the President's signature.

So not only did President Obama not sign this resolution, President Bush ALSO did not sign the resolution.

So what is in the resolution you claim "demands" that Japan apologize? Just this (all the "whereas" statements removed. See the link below if you want all the "Whereas" statements included):

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan—

(1) should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘‘comfort women’’, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II;

(2) would help to resolve recurring questions about the sincerity and status of prior statements if the Prime Minister of Japan were to make such an apology as a public statement in his official capacity;

(3) should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the ‘‘comfort women’’ for the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces never occurred; and

(4) should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘‘comfort women’’.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-110hres121eh/pdf/BILLS-110hres121eh.pdf

I see a lot of "shoulds" and "woulds", But I don't see any "demands".

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It says " should formally acknowledge, apologize", why is it not demanding apology? I can't believe you. Anyway Japan perceived US demanded apology.

Abe is selling Japan to US, but many Japanese are angry at USA

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

No the treaty is just fine . . . . governments of POWs , especially Australia, Holland and the US, should pay them millions for failing to condemn japanese corporations after war and the responsible of in those corporations. Like this each government will have a physical pressuring tool to force japan to acknowledge and seek pardon by its own.

Right now the POWs are in a grey zone, abandoned by their own and japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It says " should formally acknowledge, apologize", why is it not demanding apology? I can't believe you. Anyway Japan perceived US demanded apology.

Now finish the sentence. Each of those numbered items have a part that precedes them. The sentence actually reads:

It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘‘comfort women’’, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

"The House of Representatives" has NEVER been the equivalent to "U.S." It's just one part of one branch of a three-branch government. You can't believe ME?! You still haven't apologized for lying about the President of the United States, so I don't believe YOU... including your obviously false claim to be speaking for the entire country of Japan. Here's what I DO believe... You, personally, believed that the U.S. - and the President in particular - demanded that Japan apologize over the comfort women issue. Once you were proven to be absolutely wrong, you tried to cover things by claiming that's how Japan sees it. Caught in a blatant lie, you didn't even have the decency to apologize for your error.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

fadamor I dont think you understand how much your country is hurting Japanese people feeling on this issue for a long time. .

Mrs. Clinton also criticized Japan over this. There're many US public figures criticizing over this. And are you saying US is not criticizing? Are you saying as long as you don't use the word "demand" you're not demanding? Some of your congress demanded Abe to apologize at the address. Maryland or something state also unanimously demanded apology. Your total attitude is count not the single word.

My point was not the word demand, but that it is not the attitude of people who respect the rule of law.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

tinawatanabe: "fadamor I dont think you understand how much your country is hurting Japanese people feeling on this issue for a long time."

And yet whenever someone quotes you as saying, "you don't understand how much you are hurting the Japanese people feeling" you turn around and say you "don't care what others think" and "Japanese don't care", and "I don't pretend to represent Japanese", etc.?

How about this -- I don't care one bit if the feelings of people in denial are hurt. The only people who feel victimized by demands for apology, which are warranted, are those who refuse to acknowledge any wrong doing and proclaim THEY are the ones who suffered, etc.! Those people are just as bad as their ancestors who committed the atrocities that they try to cover up and demand you don't repeat any more. People who TRULY know that Japan committed wrong doing and agree that what Abe and Co. are doing about history is wrong don't feel bad about the issue being brought up. Many, in fact, have voiced their concerns that policies and statements by lawmakers denying history, as well as white-washing of history textbooks, has led to an increase in demands for apology and a negative image of Japan in terms of history.

Do you not see the irony in regards to the fact that the people who want the issue to be shut up forever and forgotten are faced more than ever with calls for it to be brought to the surface and apologized for again? Yes, laws should ABSOLUTELY be amended to allow former POWs to seek legal means to get compensation -- they never had a choice in the past, and in many cases the Japanese companies simply disbanded, then reformed and changed names and said, "We have no affiliation to the past company. We cannot help you" and washed their hands of the whole thing, while still, of course, keeping the massive profits from their slave labor in which thousands upon thousands suffered and died.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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