SEOUL – The diplomatic documents Seoul released Friday detail behind-the-scenes negotiations between Japan and South Korea over reparations for Korean victims during Japan’s colonial rule and other issues prior to the normalization of bilateral ties in 1965.
Seoul, which made public some of the archive documents in January, said it has now disclosed all material relating to the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations Between Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The 35,350 pages detail negotiations over property claims, including how the Japanese and South Korean sides tried to narrow the gap between their positions.
The archives verified the existence of the so-called Kim-Ohira Memo exchanged between then Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira and Kim Jong Pil, head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency under the Park Chung Hee government.
The memo says Tokyo agreed to give Seoul $300 million in grants and $500 million in the for of an economic cooperation fund, not compensation.
It also shows that Seoul promised not to demand any more compensation for wartime victims, depriving individuals of the right to seek reparations from Tokyo.
On the South Korea-controlled disputed islets in the Sea of Japan — known as Takeshima by Japan and Tok-do by South Korea — the documents reveal Tokyo asked Seoul to have the row brought before the International Court of Justice in the Hague, but South Korea rejected the proposal, claiming the islets are its territory.
Negotiators considered at one point asking the United States to arbitrate the dispute, the archives reveal.
The newly released documents also show the South Koreans were frequently in touch with Yoshio Kodama, one of the most powerful rightwing figures in Japan’s postwar era. The archives depict Kodama as a well-connected power broker.
Seoul released the documents because it believed the public has a right to have the information and the disclosure would not affect bilateral relations, a senior South Korean official said.
On the same day, South Korea also made public diplomatic documents from the Vietnam War period, during which the country deployed about 50,000 soldiers to South Vietnam.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.