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To the casual observer, 95-year-old Lee Hak-rae could be just another elderly person in Japan. Surrounded by pictures of his family and paintings by his great-grandchildren, Lee potters about his cluttered living room on the outskirts of Tokyo.

But Lee is obsessed by brutal events of 75 years ago that have defined his life: his recruitment into the Japanese army from then-occupied Korea in 1942; his role in building the Thai-Burma railway; being designated a World War II criminal; and how, he says, he was tossed into the dustbin of history by both Japan and South Korea.

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