Regarding Misao Nakayama’s Dec. 29 letter, “Korean workers not used as slaves“: What term would Nakayama prefer to use than “slave” to avoid having the truth told once again? How many Koreans have told Nakayama that they were “happy” to work for the Japanese government (during World War II)?

I commend Nakayama’s accurate report of the numbers of Koreans in pre- and postwar Japan. However, Nakayama’s interpretation of Koreans’ situation in Japan once more is representative of Japan’s whitewashing of history.

In 1939 proud Koreans were stripped of their surnames; in a colonized Korea, this was the ultimate humiliatioNorth Koreans came to work in Japan because they had lost all means of making a living in their homeland. My Korean father-in-law, who was conscripted into the Japanese Imperial Army, fought in the Truk Islands. He never mentioned that he was “happy” to serve as an “inferior Korean” in a futile war.

My parents-in-law remained in Japan after the war because there was nothing to return to in Korea. As Koreans in Japan, they struggled before and after the war. I agree wholeheartedly with Joergen Jensen’s comments (Dec. 25) regarding the belated public empathy for Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea while the same Japanese public fails to acknowledge the atrocities committed against others in the past.

How can history be whitewashed so conveniently time and time again even after surviving victims disclose their factual stories?

Behind impressive data are real-life stories. Contrary to what Nakayama and much of the general Japanese public would conveniently like to think, the Koreans suffered terribly and were treated as slaves. There is one road to reconciliation — acknowledgment of past wrongs.

susan menadue-chun