'Members of a support group for South Korean women who had been forced to serve as conscripted laborers during World War II hold a press conference in front of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries auto display center in Gwangju City to urge the Japanese government to reexamine its decision to pay 99 Yen in response to their administrative lawsuit for pension compensation, Jan. 4.
Posted on : Jan.5,2010 12:16 KS'
7 Korean Grandmas Fighting Japan
By Do Je-hae, Staff Reporter
Koreans who were forced into labor for a Japanese company during World War II (1939-1945) are demanding a re-examination of Tokyo's latest decision to provide a pittance as a welfare pension refund, according to a support group of the victims Monday.
The group said that it will assist the seven female victims to petition for a review, in cooperation with Japanese civic groups.
The announcement comes after leading newspapers in Japan reported last month that the country's Social Insurance Agency (SIA) sent 99 yen ($1.08) as part of a welfare pension refund to the seven Korean women, who were forced to work during Japan's occupation of Korea from 1910 through 1945.
The payment is a result of a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 1998 by the women to claim the money they paid to a welfare pension fund while working at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries between October 1944 and August 1945.
"After 64 years of negligence, the Japanese government has paid a worthless sum," they said during a press conference at the Mitsubishi auto display center in the southwestern city of Gwangju.
A support group based in Nagoya, Japan, will work on behalf of the seven victims to win a review of the refund plan.
The SIA has said that it sent the payment of 99 yen to bank accounts held by each of the seven plaintiffs after the local government of Aichi Prefecture, where a Mitsubishi Heavy Industry factory was located, calculated the payment. The amount of the payment was calculated according to the nation's Employees' Pension Insurance Act, according to Japanese reports.
To protest the inadequate compensation, 81-year-old plaintiff Kim Sung-joo led a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul last month with other victims and supporters from civic groups.
The protest has led to many Koreans revisiting the unresolved issue of post-colonial compensation. Korea will mark the 100th year of Japan's 1910 annexation of the country on Aug. 22.
During its 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, Tokyo forced hundreds of thousands of Koreans to work in coal mines and military facilities in and around the country to support its war efforts. Some were forced to serve in brothels for Japanese soldiers during the final years of the occupation.
Since Korea won independence from Japan, citizens have continued to raise the issue of compensation for the damages inflicted by the 30-year occupation, while Japan has contended that the 1965 Korea-Japan Treaty cleared all compensation claims.
Many Koreans are hoping the new Japanese government will show more sincerity toward issues regarding compensation for forced labor. There are currently 88 surviving women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II registered with the government.
Some Koreans have been discontent with the way the Lee Myung-bak administration has dealt with historical conflicts with Japan.
"Many nations, including the United States and the Netherlands, have urged Tokyo, through resolutions and rulings, to issue proper apologies and compensation. But the Lee administration has not been vocal about the issue," Rep. Park Sun-young, spokeswoman of the minor opposition Liberal Forward Party, said, referring to what some have called the President's "indifference toward the past for 'future-oriented' relations with Japan."
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