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`Former Forced Laborers Got 99 Yen Each From Japan`

Posted December. 24, 2009 13:13,   


Japan has paid 99 yen (1.10 U.S. dollars) each to seven Korean elderly women who were forced laborers in Japan in World War II as part of a welfare pension, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said Wednesday.

The Korean victims as well as the Japanese public have criticized Tokyo for not reflecting inflation in calculating the amount.

One of the seven women, 78-year-old Yang Geum-deok, said, “I was tricked into becoming a forced laborer in 1944 at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and returned home after Korea’s liberation. I’ve been waiting to be paid but all I got was a meager 99 yen.”

“I’m very angry at the Japanese government and the company.”

According to Asahi, eight people who had worked at Mitsubishi in Nagoya in 1944 and their families filed complaints with the Japanese government in 1998 to get their welfare pension. Japan’s Social Insurance Agency has recently paid the 99 yen to seven of them for 11 months of work at the company.

The withdrawal payment is given to workers who quit before completing a certain period of time required by the pension system. The pension contributions a worker paid until he or she quits is returned by the company.

On the demand for unpaid wages by Korean forced laborers, Tokyo said it paid the money to Seoul after the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1965.

Every worker is entitled to the withdrawal payment regardless of nationality, however, if he or she was born before April 1, 1941, and paid into the pension for a certain period of time.

Three Koreans who had been forced to work in Japan demanded their withdrawal payments in Aug. 2005, but each received 316 (3.45 dollars), 35 (0.38 cents) and 18 yen (20 cents).

The Japanese insurance agency said, “The money was calculated under the welfare pension law,” citing no provision in the law to adjust for inflation.

An ox was valued at 50 yen (0.55 cents) in 1945, so the withdrawal amount is considered extremely low. When Taiwanese soldiers requested unpaid wages, Asahi said, the Japanese government paid them 120 times their wages in 1994.

changkim@donga.com goqud@donga.com