3. Historical Context


3-1-1. A Colonized Korea, Japanese Imperialism, and Post-War Relations

3-1-2. Politics of Memory

3.1. Historical Context


As the saying goes, there are multiple sides to every story. Yet, as in the case of the recent events regarding the controversy and the following international coverage of the events, the told story may not always be a balanced one, given that different agendas, biases, and knowledge bases can produce vastly differing narratives. Such discrepancies in narratives can affect the way the general public consumes, responds, or acts on the given information.

Construction of history works much in the same way. While absolute objectivity is idealized in history, historical narratives are by definition constructions inevitably subject to differing interpretations and selections of facts. Historical narratives are often far from absolutely objective, as different peoples bring in different memories and interpretations of historical events for different reasons.  

The layered relationship between Korea and Japan is a prime example of multiple historical narratives at work. It is our belief that the international media and public response largely neglected or misconstrued the Korean perspective, and that Japan’s past imperial ambitions in Korea must be understood in order to contextualize these recent events and geopolitical tensions.

The scope of this section thus outlines Korean history from 1900 to the present with a strong emphasis on its history of colonization. It will also briefly refer to Japanese colonial rule in China and Southeast Asia, as it provides some global context and understanding of the far-reaching scale and legacies of Japanese imperialism. For those who are interested in this topic and would like to know more, we have compiled a Recommended Resources section that can serve as a starting point.

3-1-1. A Colonized Korea, Japanese Imperialism, and Post-War Relations

Before 1910: Pre-Colonization

The Korean peninsula has historically been a region at the center of many territorial disputes, as it is located in a geographically advantageous position for countries like Japan, China, and Russia. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Japan and Russia battled for control over the Korean peninsula. The 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War resulted in Russia’s defeat and consequently led to the signing of the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth. This treaty made Korea a Japanese protectorate, granting Japan explicit governance over Korea in addition to other regions such as Manchuria and Liaotung. The Treaty of Portsmouth marked the end of Korean autonomy and sovereignty and handed over the Korean peninsula to external forces (Treaty of Portsmouth, 1905 [6]).

But it was not until August 22, 1910 that Korea was officially annexed as a colony under the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. Thus began a tumultuous 35 years of colonization under Japanese rule.

1910–1919: Military Rule

The first decade of colonization is characterized as a period of military rule due to “the heavy hand of [colonial] control and oppression,” (Hwang, 2017 [9]). During this time, the Japanese aimed to eliminate resistance movements in order to preserve a stronghold over the Korean peninsula (Hwang, 2017 [9]). The basic rights of Koreans – press, education, and assembly – were suppressed as part of this effort. Military rule was enforced through significant Japanese military and civilian police presence, which was met with a rise of resistance forces.

Despite these resistance efforts, Korean independence was elusive because Western powers supported Japan in pursuit of their own geostrategic interests (National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, 2018 [15]). Even during the Paris Peace Conference, an event that saw Western nations champion self-determination (Manela, 2017 [16]), those nations did not support this cardinal principle for countries outside of Europe. The belief was that self-determination belonged to the “civilized” people of Europe, not to those of Asia and Africa (Manela, 2017 [16]).

1919-1931: The Effects of the March 1 Movement and Cultural Rule

Fig. 15. Thousands of enthusiastic Koreans, including women and girls, shouting “Mansei” with hands in the air outside the palace in Seoul. [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/

On March 1, 1919, thousands of Koreans gathered in Seoul’s Pagoda Park and made a public declaration of independence against the Japanese Imperial government.1 While the exact demographics of what is known as the March 1st Movement are still contested, it is said that of the estimated 500,000–1,000,000 participants, up to 7,000 individuals were killed, 1,400 injured, and over 14,000 arrested  (Baldwin 1969, [3]).

In light of this resistance, the Japanese government relaxed some of its policies in order to assuage the rebellion of Korean civilians. Previously, newspapers were forbidden, but the Japanese government gave Korean newspapers permission to publish under strict oversight from 1920 to 1931, releasing a limited level of political tension. In addition to policy changes, it should also be noted that this period saw significant infrastructural growth marked by material progress with new construction of roads, railroads, schools, and non-agrarian industry (Hwang, 2017 [9]).

Overarching reform programs instituted by Saito Makoto, the newly instated Japanese Governor-General at the time, “[combined] a discrete strengthening of bureaucratic and police forces with an outwardly more benign governing approach that allowed Koreans to pursue social, economic, and cultural activities more freely” (Hwang, 2017 [9]). These reforms created division amongst Koreans by co-opting them into the colonial system. Resistance groups that existed from the beginning of Japanese colonization were pitted against their own countrymen, who promoted joining the Japanese empire.

1931–1945: Wartime Mobilization and Cultural Assimilation

Despite the loosening of regulations in response to the March 1st Movement, Japan regressed to an even harsher system during the 1930s as it engaged in more militarized conflict with China and entered WWII. Japan aligned itself with Nazi Germany and together they formed the Axis Alliance.

For Koreans, Japan’s wartime activities not only stripped them of their unique ethnic identity, but also exploited and brutalized them (Hwang, 2017 [9]). In an attempt to control Korea and stifle their independence movements, Japan instituted a “cultural genocide” known as 내선일체 (naeseonilchae, “Korea and Japan are one entity”) (The Cyber University of Korea, 2016, 17:37 [21]; Eckert, Lee, Lew, Robinson, & Wagner, 1990 [5]). The Japanese government intended to erase Korean national identity by forcing Koreans to assimilate by taking on Japanese customs such as participating in Shinto ceremonies (Japan’s native religion) and taking Japanese names. The Korean language was banned from secondary schools in 1938 and from primary schools in 1943, and Japanese language instruction was enforced (The Cyber University of Korea, 2016 [21]; Eckert, et al., 1990 [5]).

Japan’s manpower shortage resulted in forced labor and the conscription of Koreans, who were brought to Japan at the beginning of 1938. By the end of the war, 360,000 Korean men had been conscripted into the Japanese army. Roughly half of the conscripted Korean soldiers died, and around a total of 6 million Koreans were mobilized for Japan’s war efforts (The Cyber University of Korea, 2016, [21]). Korean laborers led difficult lives with little food, no pay, and slim chances of survival (Hwang, 2017 [9]).  It should also be critically noted that of the estimated 100,000 total Korean victims of atomic bomb,2 thousands were firstly victims of slave labor, having been forcibly taken from Korea to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to work at Japanese shipyards and factories, before they became victims of nuclear weapons (Lee, 2018 [14]; English translation).

However, it was not just men who faced exploitation – Korean women and girls ranging in age from 12 to 40 were forced into prostitution, serving as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers. Many were “lured with promises of economic opportunity, while others were kidnapped or otherwise coerced”; survivors only began to “gradually [come] forward with wrenching accounts of their ordeals” in the 1990s (Hwang, 2017 [9]). An estimated 100,000–200,000 Korean women were victims of rape and abuse at the hands of Japanese soldiers (The Cyber University of Korea, 2016, [21]).

The Japanese Empire Outside Korea

Japanese imperialism extended to include parts of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines, among others, all of which were subjected to suffering.

Japan’s brutal and well-known use of forced labor in the construction of the Burma-Thai Railway aptly captures the far-reaching extent of their imperial endeavors. The Burma-Thai Railway construction began in 1942 to link the railway networks of the two countries (Kratoska, 2005 [13]). In this project – the largest construction project during the Japanese empire – more than 180,000 laborers (numbers are disputed depending on source) made up of people from Malaysia, Burma (now Myanmar), Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam as well as European prisoners of war (POWs), were brought in to work on constructing the railway. A majority of European POWs died in 1942, thus Asian laborers were brought in in mid-1943. Many of these Asian laborers then deserted or died due to a cholera epidemic (Kratoska, 2005 [13]).

Japanese exploitation of sex slavery also extended beyond the scope of Korea, as women from many countries across the Asia-Pacific region were forcibly abducted and exploited. Colloquially referred to as “comfort women,” majority of the victims of Japanese military sex slavery were from Korea, but there were also many who hailed from Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia (Amnesty Report, 2005 [2]). While the victims often were disguised as volunteer workers or nurses to work at stations euphemistically referred to as “comfort stations” in Japanese military camps across its empire, it was found after the end of the war that these “comfort stations” were in fact brothels serving the Japanese army by providing them the “comfort” of forced sex (Kratoska, 2005 [13]).

Even after the end of the war, victims of Japanese sexual slavery testify that the dark memories of their reality during wartime continue to haunt them. Lola Piding, a Filipina survivor of sexual slavery, recounts the difficulty she had in trusting her husband years after the war:

My thoughts were very painful, I could not express what happened to me, I’d been a virgin…It took me three years to consent to sleep with my husband, I buried everything and tried to forget. When I saw men in uniform I’d panic and get scared.

(Amnesty Report, 2005 [2])

Fig. 16. Lemon, A. (n.d.). Chinese and Malayan girls forcibly taken from Penang by the Japanese to work as ‘comfort girls’ for the troops [Digital image]. Retrieved from http://media.iwm.org.uk

While there are many other harrowing accounts of Japanese colonization from other areas that experienced Japanese imperialism, due to the scope of this paper we can primarily address Korean experiences. However, we have gathered a host of Recommended Resources that can serve as a starting point should you want to learn more about this topic.

Liberation and the End of Japanese Colonization

Despite the efforts of independence fighters who worked outside of Korea3 to organize resistance efforts,4 Korean nationals were ultimately unable to secure independence by themselves without external intervention.

The August 6, 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped lead to Japan’s admission of defeat during WWII as Japan could not recuperate after the devastating consequences and casualties of the bombs. This in turn initiated independence for many countries under Japanese colonial rule, who celebrate their independence days in August and September – including Korea, which celebrates on August 15. Celebrations of liberation and a return to autonomy serves as the focus of independence days for countries that experienced long lasting colonization, which for some were only possible because of Japan’s defeat in the war. Meanwhile, August 6 is a day of mourning and commemoration in Japan; it is also remembered solemnly around the world as a day when many lives were lost.

To provide context, in March 1945, the firebombing of Tokyo had already killed approximately 100,000 people, and the subsequent atomic bombs in August killed nearly 200,000 in Hiroshima and 70,000 in Nagasaki (Schirokauer & Clark, 293 [18]; Hall [8]). Many were injured or forever sickened by the radiation poisoning. The bombings have been controversial since 1946, when the U.S. released its post-war report, which concluded Japan would have likely surrendered without the atomic bombs or a land invasion (“United States Strategic Bombing Survey” [25]). Many scholars on World War II have also taken this stand, but there are some who still advocate for the necessity of the bombs.

After Japan surrendered, the sudden power vacuum created by Japanese withdrawal in Korea allowed other powers to intercede in Korean affairs. The 38th parallel was drawn up to divide the North and South at the end of WWII, leaving the North under Soviet Union influence and the South under U.S. influence. Even though the Korean War of 1950–1953 attempted to dissolve the divide, the war ended in a ceasefire and the division between North and South has yet to change.

Fig. 17. Hyun, I. (1945). People Rejoicing the Moment of Liberation [Digital image].
South Korea and Japan’s Post-War Relations

In 1965, South Korea and Japan signed a treaty to normalize their diplomatic relations in pursuit of their “mutual welfare and common interests” (Article IV: Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, 1965 [22]). The treaty established South Korea’s government as the only lawful government in Korea and voided any agreements made between Korea and Japan prior to 1910.

A separate agreement was signed to settle issues of “property of the two countries and their nationals and claims between the two countries and their nationals,” and was meant to terminate all settlement issues related to the colonial period. Both countries agreed that Japan would provide Korea with $200 million in loans and $300 million in grants to be used in such a way that the money would be “conductive to the economic development of the Republic of Korea.” The agreement also arranged for the transfer of technology and investment opportunities (Article I: Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims, 1966 [24]).

In 1996, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights released a special report regarding the comfort women of WWII. The report called the phenomenon a “clear case of sexual slavery,” clarified that the 1965 treaty was not “concerned with human rights violations in general or military sexual slavery in particular,” and thereby explicitly established that individual claims against Japan were not covered under the 1965 agreement (United Nations Commission on Human Rights, 1996 [23]). Additionally, the report recommended that Japan accept its legal responsibility towards reparations for “comfort women,” pay restitution directly to victims, and raise awareness via its education system as possible methods for fully atoning for its crimes (United Nations Commission on Human Rights, 1996 [23]).

Much later, in 2015, Japan and Korea appeared to have solved the issue of comfort women for good with a new agreement that required Japan to pay roughly $8.3 million USD to support survivors. Korea was to “consider the matter resolved ‘finally and irreversibly’ if Japan fulfills its promises” (BBC News, 2015 [10]).

However, many former comfort women were unsatisfied with this agreement, as it was established without consulting any survivors. Not only that, it failed to provide direct compensation to individuals and did not require Japan to take legal responsibility. Lee Yong-soo, a former comfort woman, stated, “I wonder whether the talks took place with the victims really in mind.” (BBC News, 2015 [10]).

Fig. 18. Young-joon, A. (2015). SOUTH KOREA US JAPAN COMFORT WOMEN [Former comfort women who were forced to serve for the Japanese troops as a sexual slave during World War II shout slogans during a rally against a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the United States, in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea]. Retrieved from http://www.apimages.com

Despite the supposed finality of the 2015 pact, disagreements over the comfort women issue continued to pop up. In a speech made on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe avoided using vocabulary that explicitly addressed reparations and averted any direct acknowledgement of comfort women or forced laborers. Although it is apparent that he refers to comfort women when he talks about “women behind the battlefield,” there is no acknowledgement that these women were coerced and forced into their “work” (Abe, 2015 [1]).

This statement was widely criticized by Asian media as being indirect and avoidant. What’s more, Abe’s ill-defined speech was a departure from former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 address on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, in which Murayama explicitly apologized for Japan’s colonial rule and aggression. Japan’s unclear and changing views on whether or not they forcefully coerced comfort women and laborers into their fates is reflective of the variety in Japanese sentiment regarding the degree of responsibility that they hold in their victims’ suffering (Mizoguchi, 1993 [17]; Joyce, 2007 [11]).

In January 2018, it was reported that Moon Jae-in’s administration decided not to alter the 2015 agreement despite speculations (Tatsumi, 2018 [19]). However, after the recent escalation in tensions due to the Supreme Court ruling on forced labor, the Korean government decided to end the foundation set up by the 2015 agreement. The decision comes partially as a result of public and survivor backlash over the deal, which many felt did not hold Japan fully accountable for its crimes (Kim, 2018 [12]). The fund has not been officially closed, but the Korean government is preparing to take legal action to do so – a move that has angered the Japanese administration (Haas, 2018 [7]).

3-1-2. Politics of Memory

By beginning to understand different perspectives of history, we come to a deeper recognition of how different narratives are used by different groups in power, as in the case of conflicting Japanese and Korean historical narratives. These disputes of historical interpretation, also known as “politics of memory,” continue to shape many contemporary geopolitical conflicts we observe in the region today.

Gi-wook Shin, professor of sociology and director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, succinctly summarizes this ongoing tension fraught by politics of memory in East Asia:

Divided memories of war and colonialism create serious perception gaps and misgivings, hindering historical reconciliation. Consequently, an important first step toward reconciliation is to identify and understand the key factors that influence the formation of historical memory in each nation and to recognize the different weight of these factors. Koreans and Chinese, for example, need to know how and why the victim identity of conservative Japanese elites (unlike their German counterparts) came about and how it has posed a chief obstacle to Japan’s reconciliation with its Asian neighbors. Likewise, Japan must become cognizant of just how central the historical legacy of its aggression has been in shaping the collective identities of Chinese and Koreans

(Shin, 2015 [9]).

As Shin aptly notes, a mutual understanding between countries in conflict is crucial in moving towards reconciliation. However, in order for there to be a mutual understanding, each country’s different interpretation of their shared history must first be known. Seeing that the Japanese perspective has been shared considerably in the international community from this incident, and recognizing the comparative lack of awareness of the Korean side, this section aims to shed light on the less known side of the Korean-Japan historical relationship from the Korean perspective.

We sincerely hope that it can contribute to the achievement of a common understanding and movement towards reconciliation.

Historical Revisionism and Western Accountability

In the eyes of many Korean people, Japan has yet to offer a satisfactory apology – one which keeps actions consistent with verbal proposals.

Despite the international acknowledgment (as examined in the previous section with the 1996 UNHRC special report) of outstanding Japanese responsibility and demand that Japan abide by international humanitarian law, Japan continues to insist that the 1965 treaty terminated all possibilities for future claims to be raised by individuals against Japan or its private companies, rejecting all demands for compensation. Further, Japanese textbooks to this day severely gloss over the history of Japanese aggression during the WWII and fail to sufficiently address the war crimes of its imperial past, contributing significantly to what many criticize as Japanese historical revisionism (Oi, 2013 [6]).

Active denial of the realities of sexual exploitation and forced labor during Japan’s occupation of Korea continues to this very day. As recently as November 29, 2018 Japan’s Times published an Editor’s note that actively revised its use of terms “forced labor” and “comfort women” in line with the current government’s conservative agenda; in full, it stated:

“In the past, The Japan Times has used terms that could have been potentially misleading. The term ‘forced labor’ has been used to refer to laborers who were recruited before and during World War II to work for Japanese companies. However, because the conditions they worked under or how these workers were recruited varied, we will henceforth refer to them as ‘wartime laborers.’ Similarly, ‘comfort women’ have been referred to as ‘women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II.’ Because the experiences of comfort women in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely, from today, we will refer to ‘comfort women’ as ‘women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers” 

(Japan Times, 2018 [11]).

Such an unabashed effort to revise Japan’s history rightfully instigated a truly global outrage, with critics denouncing that “it is a very frightening and troubling development… a classic [history] denier move” attempting to rewrite Japan’s wartime history and that Japan’s media is bowing down to pressure from right wing politicians (Romo, 2018 [8]; McCurry, 2018 [5]; South China Morning Post, 2018 [2]).

Fig. 19. The Japan Times. (November 29, 2018). [Editor’s note that redefines terms from Japan’s WWII history, causing deep concern and outrage amongst historians and activists globally.] Retrieved December 5, 2018, from http://twitter.com

Post-war Japanese effort to revise its wartime history is not a recent phenomenon. A paid advertisement titled “The Facts,” was published in the June 14, 2007 issue of The Washington Post by a group of Japanese conservatives called the “Committee for Historical Facts.” The ad categorically denied that the Japanese government had any involvement in forcing women to perform sexual labor for the Japanese military and argued that any women who did perform such acts did so as voluntary prostitutes (Soh, 2008 [10]).

This advertisement was an attempt to lobby against Japanese progressives who urged that Japan “embrace … the globalizing human rights culture and their active advocacy for the comfort women” and dissuade U.S. House of Representatives from adopting a resolution “calling on Japan to formally apologize and take responsibility unequivocally for its wartime sex slavery (Soh, 2008 [10]). A revised version of the advertisement, “Yes, We Remember the Facts,” was published in 2012 in The Star Ledger. Shinzo Abe, the current Prime Minister of Japan, was one of the many prominent political leaders who co-signed the advertisement published in 2012, the year he took office.

Such denial of responsibility extends consistently in Japan’s dealing with the issue of its wartime forced labor. On this issue, a comparison between German and Japanese confrontation of the dark sides of their histories demonstrates a stark difference.

While both Germany and Japan utilized forced labor for private corporations, Germany has shown significant effort to take accountability and work towards reconciliation. Germany has made wartime records public and its government and private firms – including Siemens, Krupp, and Daimler-Benz – have long paid individual survivors and organizations that aided them.

In comparison, to this day both the Japanese government and its private corporations refuse to make direct payments to forced labor victims, despite the moral and legal pressure they face internationally5 (Haberstroh, 2003 [4]).

Mitsubishi, for instance, exploited not only thousands of Korean slave laborers, but also hundreds of British, Dutch, Australian, and American prisoners of war at shipyards, coal mines, and many factories in Nagasaki. While the corporation has publicly apologized for its use of POW labor at many sites, it has yet to apologize to those POWs at countless other sites (including the Nagasaki shipbuilding complex), let alone acknowledge Korean victims of forced labor. (Palmer, 2015 [7]).

Meanwhile, many Western nations – and the U.S. in particular – are gravely responsible for the pivotal role they played in setting up the initial Japanese path for historical revisionism during its military occupation of Japan and South Korea that started at the end of WWII.

The Allied occupation of Japan actively worked to protect the Japanese Imperial family from facing war crime responsibilities at the 1946 Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal under U.S. American General Douglas MacArthur’s leadership.6 MacArthur’s subordinates went to extraordinary lengths “to attribute ultimate responsibility for Pearl Harbor to Hideki Tojo,” the Prime Minister of Japan for the duration of the war, by orchestrating each criminal’s testimonies months before the Tokyo Tribunal commenced on grounds that total exoneration of the imperial family was necessary to maintain political stability and historical continuity in Japan. As a result, Japanese Emperor Hirohito was “turned into an almost saintly figure who did not…bear moral responsibility for the war” (Dower, 2016 [1]).

Fig. 20. View of the Tribunal in session: The bench of judges is on the right, the defendants on the left, and the prosecutors in the back [Digital image]. (1945). Retrieved from https://apjjf.org

Needless to say, such U.S. policies had an indisputable impact on how Japanese people themselves would come to understand their past as well as the present: if the commander in chief of Japan’s imperial forces himself was not guilty, how could ordinary Japanese people wrap their heads around their share of collective and individual guilt and responsibility? As Dower put it, “Emperor Hirohito became postwar Japan’s preeminent symbol, and facilitator, of non-responsibility and non-accountability” (Dower, 1999 [1]). U.S. military occupation’s role in enabling Japan’s historical revisionism simply cannot be denied, as the choices made by the U.S. essentially laid the foundations of post-war Japanese identity (Gady, 2015 [3]).

The historical revisionism spearheaded by the United States paved the way for Japan to continue denying the impact of its imperialist past on the rest of Asia. This selective memorialization continues to haunt political relations between Japan and its neighbors, as the country continues to show resistance towards addressing its past war crimes, complicating issues of sex slavery, forced labor, reconciliation, and compensation.

Many other nations with histories of colonial activity have made substantial efforts to right historical wrongs and educate their citizens on past transgressions. Japan, however, has taken no such consistent actions to show its sincere regret for the violence it inflicted towards South Korea and other Asia-Pacific countries under its empire, as it continues to revise its wartime history.

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  1. Hyun, Soon. “Declaration of Independence: English Translation ” Texts. East Asian Library, University of Southern California, March 1, 1919. Korean American Digital Archive.http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll126/id/14680. This is a an original copy of the English translation of the Declaration of Independence that was read in Pagoda Park in 1919.
  2. 100,000 Korean victims of atomic bomb encompass those who died instantly with the nuclear catastrophe as well as survivors, whose lives have been impacted by the bombs, and second-generation victims of nuclear radiation health effects. Other sources identify that immediate and instant Korean casualties are estimated to be between 40,000 and 50,000. See Choe and Taylor for more information.
  3. Korean Economic Society. Correspondence. “고려경제사 – Koryo Kyongjesa. 1944-1945.” Correspondence, December 1944. Korean American Digital Archive. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll126/id/3675. “Necessary that the Korean people show – through practical demonstration and future planning – their capacity to administer freedom and independence.”
  4. “Gov’t Designates 669 Korean Independence Movement Sites Overseas.” YON – Yonhap News Agency of Korea, May 10, 2005. General OneFile (accessed November 29, 2018). http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.neu.edu/apps/doc/A132280483/ITOF?u=mlin_b_northest&sid=ITOF&xid=322c2126. “South Korea has designated a total of 669 places overseas as historical sites linked to the movement for Korea’s independence from Japan’s colonial rule in the early part of the last century… Monuments and memorials have been set up in many of the sites, mostly in China, Russia and the United States… The government will establish a committee aimed at protecting the historical sites”
  5. Ibid. 254-257. A committee in the International Labor Organization investigated WWII-era forced labor in Japan. It found that 17.5 percent of the 39,935 Chinese taken to work in Japan had died by war’s end; he adds that no reliable death figure exists for the Korean labors; For Japan’s refusal to release documents about its forced labor and its systematic destruction of WWII documents, See Gregory Clark. (2000, February 7). The Nanjing Number Game. Japan Times. Retrieved from http://www.japantimes.com (“The only reason we now know in detail about the Chinese forced laborers is because the only one of the many meticulous wartime reports on the subject not to suffer destruction at war’s end accidentally fell into the hands of the Taiwan authorities and could not be denied.”) The Japanese government insists that its records estimate only 110,000 Korean forced laborers. However, research suggests a staggering estimate of between four and six million Koreans slave laborers used by Japan, with 725,000 Koreans worked in mines and construction sites in Japan. For estimates on Japanese forced labor, see Macintyre, Donald. (1996, November 15). WWII: Imperial Japan on Trial. Asiaweek; Leicester, John. (2000, August 24). Chinese Forced Laborers Are Suing Japanese Firms for Compensation. Seattle Times.
  6. Dower, J. W. (1999). Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. W.W. Norton & CoPrint. Dower emphasizes the unparalleled level of total power that MacArthur wielded during the so-called Allied occupation. While technically, allied nations were to have a considerable level of consultative status in Japanese occupation, in reality the occupation operated in strict hierarchical structures that placed almost total decision making power on MacArthur. As a result, historians analyze that U.S. occupation laid the foundations for post-war Japan.