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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday the government should not have promoted emigration to the Dominican Republic in the 1950s.

He indicated the government might compensate Japanese emigrants to the Caribbean country who have filed a suit against the government.

“Although it is a policy of the past, there are many aspects for the Foreign Ministry to regret,” Koizumi told a House of Councilors Budget Committee session. “We would like to admit fault and consider what measures we can take for the emigrants.”

Koizumi was responding to questions from Liberal Democratic Party colleague Hidehisa Otsuji.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Masatoshi Abe also acknowledged state involvement — a reversal from the government’s earlier refusal to admit responsibility.

“The government was involved in the overall policymaking,” he said. “The emigration policy didn’t advance in the way it was initially predicted.”

Altogether, 1,320 Japanese emigrated to the Dominican Republic under the government program, and 500 still live there.

Some 180, including returnees, have filed a damages suit seeking 3.1 billion yen in compensation. The plaintiffs have said they did not receive the rich farmland that the Japanese government had promised, and had to endure many difficulties after moving there.

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