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Regarding Joergen Jensen’s Dec. 25 letter, “Japanese aren’t the only victims“: Koreans were not forced to work as slaves during World War II. Koreans had Japanese nationalities in those days, since Korea had been annexed to Japan in 1910. So they had the same duties as the Japanese had.

In 1939, about 147,000 Koreans were happy to go to work at Japanese military factories after the Japanese government publicly recruited factory workers in Korea by offering higher pay. In total, about 300,000 Koreans came to Japan to work from 1939 to 1943. Those Koreans were not victims. It was only in September 1944, one year before the war ended, that Koreans were mobilized — just as Japanese women and students were — to work in Japan’s factories in order to support military efforts.

The Korean population in Japan at the end of 1939 was about 800,000; by the end of the war, it was about 2 million — including 630,000 workers and family members, some 320,000 who had been mobilized and then decided to remain in Japan, as well as 250,000 workers who worked at other factories for better wages. About 1.4 million Koreans returned to Korea up to 1946. The remaining 600,000 remained in Japan of their own will.

I’m sorry to say that, when the war was over, some Japanese companies abused Korean workers and refused to pay their wages. The point is, though, that the Japanese government did not abuse the Koreans as slaves.

misao nakaya

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