Daniel Halliday
Dec 24 · Last update 4 mo. ago.
Should Japanese companies recognise the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling on forced labour reparations?
South Korean–Japanese relations have become strained recently following a couple of South Korean Supreme Court rulings that Japanese companies should compensate South Korean citizens for forced labour during World War Two. These rulings were criticised by the Japanese government and have rekindled territorial disputes leading to incidents such as a South Korean ship radar targeting a Japanese Special Defence Force plane. Should Japan continue to pay reparations to victims of war crimes during World War Two, or has this issue been sufficiently dealt with? www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20181222_15
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Japan has paid enough
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Japan has not paid enough
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The blame lies with the South Korean government
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Japan has paid enough

The issue of Japan’s World War Two reparations has already been dealt with, “most East and Southeast Asian governments consider the matter of reparations closed” [1], and it is only China and South Korea that do not recognise this. The issue was agreed upon as part of the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, reparations of half a billion US dollars were made to South Korea alone, and relations between the two countries were officially normalised. Actions such as the radar targeting of a Japanese Special Defence Forces aircraft in December 2018 are just an example of intimidation against Japan, and part of a wider anti-Japanese narrative in South Korea. [1] cnbc.com/2015/03/18/who-still-owes-what-for-the-two-world-wars.html journal-neo.org/2018/01/19/on-the-roots-of-anti-japan-moods-in-south-korea

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Japan has not paid enough

If there are parties that are not satisfied with former arrangements between the two governments, regardless of Japan’s former actions, those parties have the legal right to seek reparations from Japan, or the companies involved with Japanese war crimes of the time. Japan have obviously not gone far enough to sufficiently deal with this as an issue, as various parties, individuals and now the Korean Supreme Court feels that adequate compensation to victims has not been made. The court has thus issued a statement indicating that former treaties on the matter made between Japan and Korea do not cover the right of victims of crimes against humanity to seek direct compensation for war crimes. Japan should look to settle compensation cases on an individual basis if it wishes to solve this issue.

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The blame lies with the South Korean government

Direct talks and reparations were not agreed upon by the two nations until 1965 with the signing of the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. These fourteen years of negotiations started with Korea demanding 364 million USD as compensation for the conscripted Korean military and workforce used by the Japanese in WW2, but the treaty established an 800 million USD of economic aid as a reparation. The blame for this diplomatic break down then lies in the hands of what has become the South Korean government, as the choice to receive industrial grants over direct victim compensation was the outcome of the 1965 treaty. Backtracking on this agreement is what is causing the consequent diplomatic friction between the two countries.

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