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Japan continues to conceal documents on unpaid wages for forced laborers

Japan continues to conceal documents on unpaid wages for forced laborers

Posted January. 23, 2005 22:56,   


The Japanese government continues to refuse disclosing related documents, even though they admit the existence of unpaid wages for the people who were drafted for forced labor during the Second World War.

Not to mention the total amount of default in payment by victims’ nationalities, the Japanese government does not even say where in the government the related documents are stored.

According to documents released by Japan’s Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima on Sunday, the Japanese government refused all of Fukushima’s request to declassify documents related to nonpayment under the excuses like, “Not Found,” “Confirmation Impossible,” and “Difficult to Classify.”

Fukushima was the first person to reveal that a total of 215,147,000 yen of unpaid wages for 230,000 Korean and Chinese forced laborers, including 167,791,400 yen of cash and 47,355,600 yen in marketable securities, are being deposited in the interpellation session in October last year.

Fukushima also demanded the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to disclose the documents submitted by the Bank of Japan after the Ministry ordered Bank of Japan to deposit the unpaid wages for the forced laborers, following the orders from the U.S. Forces occupying Japan in October 1946.

At that time, the Japanese government asked the Bank of Japan to include the numbering of deposit documents, depositories, dates and years of deposit, the name and the permanent domicile of the addressees, the dates of employment of firing and its reasons, and the particulars of the default in payment. If this document is released, a big part of forced labor system will be revealed.

The Japanese government sent a written response to Fukushima on Dec. 10, 2004, that a research had been made twice in 1991 and in 1999 on the Ministry of Labor and labor departments in local regional governments, but the documents were not found, and carrying another round of research in all areas of governmental offices is not considered as of now.

On the particulars of the unpaid wages deposited in the Bank of Japan, the government said that the specifications are now stored in the Bank of Japan, after being moved from the original depository, but examining all of the specifications and classify them according to nationalities is a task of such a large scale that it is difficult provide adequate answers, refusing to reveal the documents.

Regarding the unpaid money deposited in the Bank of Japan as victims’ individual right to demand compensation was abandoned in the 1965 Korea-Japan Treaty, the Japanese government said that they plan to hold the money on deposit without any plans of taking special measures.

Fukushima, a former human rights’ attorney, criticized the Japanese government’s irresponsible concealing of the truth, saying that this year, 60th anniversary of the end of the World War II, is the last chance for Japan to clear debts in the history.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com