64,000 forced laborers on Japan list

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64,000 forced laborers on Japan list

The Korean government is going over documents provided by Japan that contain the names of 64,279 Koreans who were forced into slave labor in Japan during World War II.

The hand-over is part of an effort by the Korean Commission on Verification and Support for Victims Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Colonization to compensate Korean workers who were forced to work in Japan.

The documents recently handed over show that Japanese companies in 1947 placed the value of the work done by those 64,279 workers at 3.5 million yen ($42,000). At today’s values, the money would amount to 590 million yen.

The commission has determined, based on the information provided by Japan, that it will provide about 1.1 million won to each worker as compensation.

The commission is now trying to verify the authenticity of the Japanese documents that were given to Korea in March. But that effort is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Although we found the names of about 60,000 workers on the documents, historians say there were more than 600,000 Korean workers who suffered hard labor in Japan during the colonial period,” Lee Jae-chul, an official at the commission said.

The Japanese government in 1965 paid about $5 billion to Korean government in a broad effort to compensate for the victims of forced labor. The Korean government, however, spent the money on other things, such as building highways and giving financial support to conglomerates, to boost domestic economy, Lee said.

Since the payment in 1965, the Japanese government has maintained its stance not to provide further compensation for the workers. And now, the Korean government is paying the money instead of Japanese government. “When it comes to Japanese conglomerates such as Mitsubishi, Mistui and Aso groups, about 50,000 workers were forced to work for them during Japanese colonization, but the documents only showed 7,000 names of the workers [hired by the Japanese conglomerates],” the commission said. “In this sense, we will seek further documents revealing more names of Korean workers.” In 2007, about 11,000 soldiers and military officials got paid compensation fees by Korean government.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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