SEOUL – South Korea had planned to deal with redress demands from its citizens who suffered under Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule, according to declassified diplomatic documents made public Monday.
In an official reply in May 1964 to what was then South Korea’s Economic Planning Agency, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said the issue of compensation for individual victims was settled in talks held in November 1962, the documents show.
The talks were between Korean Central Intelligence Agency Director Kim Jong Pil and Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira.
The reply said South Korea — not Japan — is responsible for paying individuals seeking compensation.
The release of some diplomatic documents on normalizing ties with Japan has been expected to prompt a series of reparation demands from more than 1 million individual sufferers from Japan’s colonial rule, including the women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers.
The five sets of diplomatic documents, totaling about 1,200 pages, were compiled from 1963 to 1965, the final years of South Korea’s 14-year normalization talks with Japan.
Most are minutes of negotiations, government reports and instructions, many concerning South Korea’s demands for financial reparations from Japan.
According to the Yonhap News Agency, the documents show that South Korea initially demanded $364 million in compensation, claiming that some 1.03 million people were conscripted into Japan’s workforce or military, many of whom died or were injured.
Through normalizing ties with Japan, South Korea received $300 million in grants and $500 million in soft and commercial loans on condition that this money would settle all compensation claims, including future ones, related to Japan’s colonial rule.
“Now that various claims are being settled in a lump, how to deal with individual claims should be treated as a domestic issue,” a South Korean negotiator was quoted by Yonhap as saying in the declassified minutes.
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