Tuesday, January 18, 2005

1965 Tokyo-Seoul treaty likely to result in lawsuits: Compensation issue settled, leaving war victims in a lurch

By Lee Tee Jong, The Straits Times, Jan. 18, 2005

SEOUL - THE Seoul government yesterday made public the South Korea-Japan Treaty signed in 1965 when the two countries normalised relations, a move likely to set off a string of compensation suits by victims of the Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945.

The most controversial point of that treaty is South Korea's agreement to not make further compensation demands, either at the government or individual level, after receiving US$800 million (S$1.3 billion) in grants and soft loans from Japan. So, Korean victims might change tack in future suits - they are likely not to name Tokyo as the defendant but instead put Seoul in the dock. However, observers said the disclosure would not ruffle Japan and South Korea ties in view of their united front against North Korea and growing economic interdependence.

The disclosure is the outcome of a 2002 legal request by 99 South Koreans, who had suffered under Japan's colonial rule, that the government release the documents. The request was granted last February by the Seoul Administrative Court. The bulk of the money Tokyo handed to Seoul following that treaty was channelled into economic development, with less than 10 per cent used between 1975 and 1977 as compensation to victims.----------------

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