Unjust compensation

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Unjust compensation

The Japanese government has paid seven Korean women who were forced into compulsory labor in Japan for 11 months during World War II a pittance of 99 yen ($1.08, 1,280 won) as part of a welfare pension refund.

In the middle of December, 11 years after the Korean women filed an application for the payment of withdrawal allowances, the Social Insurance Agency of Japan recognized the fact that they were affiliated with a welfare pension.

They then deposited the 99-yen pensions into the plaintiffs’ bank accounts.

The amount of money they were given at one time could have bought two cows.

Today, however, it’s barely enough to buy ramen noodles.

Decades ago, the women - who were then girls - were lured by promises of education and the ability to make some money.

However, they were forced to work for Japan for nearly a year at an armaments factory.

The sum they have received - just 99 yen - is an insult to human dignity and a vicious slap in the face.

It perhaps would’ve been better if they didn’t pay the women anything at all.

In a similar case, Japan paid 316 yen to a Korean man who filed a suit against the country’s government in 2005 for a withdrawal allowance.

Japan once again reaffirmed the negative image that it acts primarily on principles and does not actually consider how its actions affect others.

How can the country justify its actions on this matter?

Germany paid about 200 billion marks in compensation and indemnities - especially at the national level and the enterprise level - for victimized people including foreigners who were put into forced labor, since the end of World War II.

We of course do not expect the same level of compensation from Japan, in large part because the Korean government bears some responsibility, as it rejected the civil right to file claims against Japan by signing the 1965 Korea-Japan agreement.

However, it is ridiculous to assume the attitude that everything relating to that period is over and belongs only in the history books. These people who were forced into labor should be fairly compensated.

The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the Japanese annexation of Korea.

The governments of Korea and Japan and other relevant enterprises should put their heads together and come up with some ideas that will relieve those grievances of the surviving victims.

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