Masami Ito’s Feb. 7 article, “Aso Mining POWs seek redress“: The Japanese government should clarify without delay a misleading statement it made Feb. 6 in response to a series of questions by Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Yukihisa Fujita. The statement, as paraphrased, implies that the government of Japan paid compensation to Allied prisoners of war in accordance with the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Those funds were not Japanese government funds, but several million dollars of relief funds contributed by the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Netherlands via the Swiss National Bank, and sequestered in the Yokohama Specie Bank (now the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ) by the Japanese government during the final year of the war.
Under terms of the 1951 treaty, the Allied Powers insisted that unspent Allied relief money be turned over to the ICRC, as stipulated in Article 16 of the treaty, for redistribution to the 14 Allied nations that were signatories to the treaty, and whose citizens had suffered in Japanese captivity.
The intent was for each Allied government to parcel out its share of the funds for the postwar comfort of those who had been prisoners of the Japanese. For the government of Japan to imply that it had made this “contribution” from its own coffers is disingenuous, to say the least, and factually incorrect.
My book “Unjust Enrichment,” published in 2001 and re-issued in 2008, gives a full accounting of the relief fund and displays supporting documentation.
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