Go to contents

Leading steel maker to donate $8.5 mln to forced draft victims

Leading steel maker to donate $8.5 mln to forced draft victims

Posted May. 26, 2012 05:23,   


Korea`s top steel maker POSCO, which benefited from Japanese loans under the 1965 Korea-Japan treaty that normalized bilateral ties, will donate 10 billion won (8.5 million U.S. dollars) to Koreans forcefully drafted into the Japanese military under Japanese colonial rule.

A Korean government committee on supporting the investigation into the forced draft said on Friday that POSCO is the first beneficiary of the treaty to donate funds for the forced draft victims. Other entities that benefited from the victims are known to be considering making contributions.

The committee under the Prime Minister’s Office also said the steel maker notified the committee on March 16 of its decision to donate 10 billion won to a foundation for the victims as part of its efforts to contribute to society. This was POSCO`s reply to an official letter sent by the committee to more than 10 companies that benefited from the treaty urging them to contribute to the foundation.

The committee sought to establish the foundation with 30 billion won (24.5 million dollars), of which 17.5 billion won (14.8 million dollars) would come from the government and 12.5 billion won (10.6 million dollars) from state-run companies. The letter was sent to Korea Expressway Corp., Korea Electric Power Corp., Korail, KT, Korea Exchange Bank, KT&G and the Korea Water Resources Corp.

POSCO announced a contribution of 3 billion won (2.5 million dollars) shortly after the foundation is established, 4 billion won (3.4 million dollars) by January next year, and 3 billion won by the end of next year. Separate from this, the company will contribute more if projects to help the forced draft victims are implemented.

Other companies have also showed their willingness to join the campaign to help the victims. The expressway company is having internal discussions on the amount of its contribution after notifying the committee of its intent to make a donation. The power corporation is also known to have begun talks on whether to join the campaign.

Set to be launched early next year, the foundation will conduct projects to support the victims and their surviving families, such as the construction of a monument and graveyard for the victims.

Lee Jae-cheol, press secretary of the committee, said, “Over the long term, we will collect more than 1 trillion won by receiving donations from the Japanese government and companies.”

The surviving families of the victims welcome the move. Lee Mong-doo, head of an association of victims of Japanese colonial rule, said, “Though belated, we welcome the decision of companies that benefited from the treaty. The grant of 300 million won (250,000 dollars) out of 500 million won (424,000 dollars) in loans given to Korea under the treaty at the time should have gone to victims of Japanese colonial rule.”

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a lawsuit that demands that Japanese companies pay damages to the forced draft victims.

Choi Bong-tae, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “We should set up a foundation joined by the Japanese government and companies that should be held accountable for the forced draft as well as by the Korean government and companies that benefited from Japanese loans,” adding, “The government should help the operations of companies if they join the foundation and punish those that do not.”

mhjee@donga.com jmpark@donga.com