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Document verifies Japan forced labor of Koreans on peninsula

A decades-old document has revealed that Japan forced labor upon Koreans not only outside the country but at places on the Korean Peninsula during the 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea.

The document, which is believed to have been drawn up by the Japanese government in the 1950s, is expected to back arguments that compensation should also be made to victims who claim to have been forced into labor on the peninsula.

Tens of thousands of Koreans, most of whom were conscripted into the Japanese colonial military to fight in World War II, were forcibly taken to Japan and its former territories off the far eastern end of Russia to engage in hard labor. These are the only people currently subject to government compensation based on the terms of a 1965 Korea-Japan pact.

The newly analyzed document has personal data of some 79,000 Koreans who were forced to work at Japanese factories both in Japanese and Korean cities, said Seoul’s Commission on Verification and Support for the Victims of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Colonialism in Korea on Monday.

The document was handed over to the commission by the Tokyo government in the 1990s.

Because the document also includes the amount of unpaid wages of the forced labor victims, it could help in prompting Japan to pay proper compensation, it added.

“The fact that the Japanese government made one united record including workers mobilized both in and out of Korea proves it took people regardless of where they were,” a commission official said.

Under a 1965 pact, Seoul agreed not to include people who were taken from the peninsula within the scope of the “forced labor victims” and has only been supporting people who were taken from outside of the country.

The Japanese government has refused to further compensate those belonging to the forced workforce, citing the money it paid to the South Korean government in 1965.

The Korean government received $300 million in grants and $500 million in soft and commercial loans, most of which were used not to support the victims, but for the nation’s economic development.

Some 154,500 Koreans were taken as forced laborers from outside of the country while another 21,590 are believed to have been taken from the peninsula, according to the commission.

By Shin Hae-in (