Three lawmakers said Tuesday they will form a nonpartisan league that will urge the government to compensate hundreds of Japanese who moved to the Dominican Republic 40 years ago under a failed Foreign Ministry emigration program.More than 10 Diet members are expected to join the league by the time of its official launch, Diet sources said.The league is to be led by Lower House members Tadatoshi Akiba and Hiroshi Kawauchi, and Upper House lawmaker Masako Owaki. The lawmakers would submit a written request to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi urging that Tokyo apologize and provide agricultural land and financial compensation for those aged 16 or older at the time of the move, the sources said.The lawmakers’ move coincides with a visit by a group of nine representatives of the emigrants. The nine, all Japanese nationals now aged between 56 and 85, are visiting Tokyo through Monday for their second mass protest at home, following one held in October 1997.From 1956 to 1959, 1,319 Japanese moved to the Caribbean in the nation’s first and only government-led emigration plan. Each family was promised 18 hectares of agricultural land.Despite the promise, most of the emigrants never received such an amount of land, the emigrants said. Even the small portions of land they did receive were unsuitable for farming, they added.Their lawyer Kenshi Nishida claims the Foreign Ministry and its affiliate, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, irresponsibly promoted the emigration of Japanese farmers to the island by calling it a “Caribbean paradise” without conducting sufficient research.
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