In the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the Allied Nations claim that "they will liberate enslaved Korea and regain its independence." Today, a considerable number of South and North Koreans are still claiming for more formal apologies and compensation from Japan. Their claims are based on false accusations that Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula brought enslavement and exploitation of the Korean people. One wonders whether this is true; Were the Koreans treated so cruelly??? How did the Japanese treat the Korean people?
We will certify as follows;
1: Civil rights in Korea: who climbed the social ladder?
2: Rice export to Japan and famine in Korea.
3: The Lies of Forced Labor.
4: Enthusiastic Korean volunteers to become Japanese soldiers.
5: Financial Assistance by Japan to Korea.
6: Labor exploitation sustained .
7: Conclusion: Japanese Exploitation was an illusion
1: Civil rights in Korea: who climbed the social ladder?
When Japan annexed Korea in 1910, Japan admitted Korean royals as members of the Japanese imperial family. Those who had contributed to the annexation were integrated into the nobility, and were given appropriate titles. I Wangyong, the last Korean prime minister, was given the title of the Count (later Duke). Seventy-five other Koreans were titled from Count to Baron. At the same time, seven Japanese and six Koreans were each appointed to be state governors of Korea's thirteen states. In 1924, a Korean was commissioned to be the Director of Education of the Government General in Souel.
What surprises us here are Hong Sayang, who was Lieutenant General of Japanese Imperial Army, and Park Sungkong, a member of House of Representatives in Tokyo. A seat in the House of Representatives was an elective post. Park Sungkong was elected twice from his district in Tokyo. This is concrete evidence that there was no discrimination just because one was a Korean. Male residents of Korea, whether Korean or Japanese, had no voting rights nor eligibility for parliamentary office. Reversely, male residents of the Japanese mainland, whether Korean or Japanese, had both voting rights and the rights to participate in national politics. In 1945, the election law was amended and eighteen seats to be elected from Korea were allotted for the next election, but the plan never crystallized due to Japan's defeat in World War 2. For the House of Peers, several Koreans were appointed, beginning with Park Yong Hyo in 1932.
Thus, war propaganda generated the false image that Koreans were treated like slaves. In addition, we proudly point out that Japan produced Korean officers who had command over the Japanese soldiers. Yes, Britain, France, The United States and the Netherland respectively produced Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indonesian officers. But were any of those colonized country's officers actually permitted to command the native rank-and-file of colonial masters?
2: Rice export to Japan and Famine in Korea
The current nationally-designated textbook for Korean high schools shows a table of rice production in Korea and rice export to Japan. The textbook makes the accusation that "Koreans were unable to eat rice due to exploitation of rice export to Japan, the increase in the amount of which far exceeded the increase in Korean domestic rice production".
|quantity of production||12,700||14,320||15,170||14,970||17,300||13,700||15,900||16,300|
|quantity of export||1850||3,400||4,750||5,440||7,420||5,400||7,600||8,700|
The figuares are true, and it is also true that Korean farmers suffered
much in living. However it should also be noted that farmers in the northern part of Japan had an
equally hard time as their counterparts in Korea.
At this time, rice was under a freely traded commodity, and there was no governmental control over its trade.
The late 1920's is infamous for world economic depression. From 1925
to 1931, the price of rice dropped down to one third in Japan. The Ministry of Farming and Forestry proclaimed
that this drop in rice prices was due to the vast imports of Korean rice, and
that the rice imports from Korea and Taiwan should be barred in
order to protect the Japanese farmers. The Korean Government General
demanded, with the back-up of the Japanese Imperial Army, that
Korean farmers should be protected, since they gained income from rice export to Japan, and managed to bar Japan's
import control efforts. Tadaatsu Ishiguro, the Vice minister
of the Ministry of Farming and Forestry resigned, to protest against interference by the Korean Government General.
In other words, in the early 1920's Japan was short of rice and there was a social disorder resulted from the rice shortage. She was therefor eager to import
from Korea and Taiwan. However by late
1920's, the infrastructure for mass-production of rice was completed
in all three areas, and both Japanese and Korean people faced excess in rice production.
Unfortunately, Korea had no cash produce for export except rice, with which to buy living necessities.
Around the same time, the United States encountered the trade
conflict with the Philippines regarding the import of sugar and
palm oil, coupled with the labor dispute against the US labor
unions regarding the immense Filipino immigrants. In 1935, the
US Government approved the local governed for the Philippines
to determine political independence from the United States ten
years later. The United States then substituted its Supreme
Governor with High Commissioner who possessed the veto right. It looks as the Philippines obtained its substantial independence, when in reality the United States actually forsook the Philippines. It is said in Japan that a certain number of the Japanese Diet representatives expressed an opinion to cut of Korea, similar to what the United States did to the Philippines.
In summary, the United States treated the Philippines as their colony and therefore gave Filipinos a local government and finally independence, with the strict interpretation that the people of the United States were different from those of the Philippines and so was the relationship between the two countries. On the contrary, Japan annexed Korea to blend into one country and governed thus. This clear apprehension of difference created the vast amount of Japanese investment in Korea to accelerate the industrialization.
Concretely, Japan initiated, with an ample subsidy brought from the Mainland Japan, land reclamation in the Yellow Sea (So-he in Korean), farming exploration in the difficult areas, irrigation scale-up. Such development plan, however, did not proceed as planned in the kick-off stage because of the economic inflation and the budget shortage. Since then, the newly modified plan was smoothly promoted in 1925 but encountered with the economic deflation, making many number of their irrigation unions bankrupted and Koreans denouncing Japanese policy. Japan had to select and divide those unions into two categories with the one to dissolve and the other to relieve by abandoning or reducing the interest of the fund borrowed by them. Those farmers who could not overcome this critical situation lost their own land but those farmers who were able to pass this hard tide caught the great deal of wealthy to return. The Korean population increased double because of the hygienic improvement under the Japanese ruling, whose expansion surpassed the growth speed of farming land exploration and inevitably let Korean flow into Japan and Manchuria.
3: The Lies of Forced Labor
In 1939 when the undeclared Sino-Japanese war broke out, the
compulsory labor to the military factories had begun, while in
Korea the labor force was richly available so that the second
and third sons of the Korean peasant families were unemployed
due to their natural population increase, trying to get the jobs
in the mainland Japan. They were, however, restricted to move
there because of the reason that their immigration to Japan would
inevitably deprive jobs from Japanese laborers. The private firms
in the mainland Japan were also prohibited to recruit those Korean
workers. Thus, in the year of 1939, such restriction was abandoned
Japanese enterprises could recruit those Korean youths.
In 1942 when the demand for labor increased, the national job-introduction system was materialized, which was said substantially the compulsory job-ration system. But from the legal point of view, it was only the job-introduction system where the unemployed could apply for the jobs at their free wills with no penalty for their sabotage or run-away from the works as long as its monetary compensation was settled. It was in 1944 when World War 2 was getting over that the job rationing system for Korean young men was carried out while Japanese youths were forced to join the Imperial military forces. Generally speaking, these two types of labor, the national job-introduction and the job-rationing systems were called the forced labor system, but the reality at that time was that those Korean young men were ordered to report to the municipal offices and guided in groups to the working places by the municipal officials just like the Japanese young men were ordered to report to join the army and the navy. Those Koreans were never hand-cuffed nor kidnapped to the laboring sites. The exploitation at the mines and the civil construction work was not mechanized at that time, requiring tremendous volume of human powers with such sweat and agony as was unforgettably raged by the Koreans.
In this regard, the dispute of the unpaid per-diem to those
Korean laborers has been an social controversy for
long time, the cause of which was that those Koreans left their duty places without the official permission and went home back to their home land. Hence, the firms who employed them have deposited the their wages to the
Japanese law-Agency pursuant to the guidance by the Ministry of Welfare. At the time when the Basic Treaty between South Korea and Japan was executed, the amount of such wages was paid to the Japanese Treasury and then became a part of the Economy Fund to the South Korean Government. The Issue of the Korean comfort women will be discussed later. In the mean time, we suggest the readers to ABC of Modern Japanese History for your reference.
4: Enthusiastic Korean volunteers to become Japanese soldiers.
At the break of the Sino-Japanese military conflict in 1937,
the Japanese army troops rushed to the war-front by trains through
the Korean Peninsula, en route, the Japanese soldiers were welcomed
with hearty hails by both Japanese and Koreans alike, together
with gratuity presents. Each station en route was, in many nights
thundered with cheerful hails by the clouds, where the Korean
civilians accompanying the military trains as an
interpreter were seen off by their family members with tears and laughing.
At that time, Major Kim Sakwong (He is Korean) of the Japanese Imperial Army completely destroyed the Chinese division by commanding one regiment of one thousand Japanese soldiers, and was awarded with the gold medal of third grade, as the first instance of the Korean officer, which was rarely conferred to any alive soldier. This victory was reported in giant head-lined throughout Korea and later published in books with titles of "Diary of Maj. Kim" and "Brave stories in the War-Front" It was almost like a dream for many Koreans that a native Korean became an officer of the Japanese Imperial Army and attacked the Chinese army, leading Japanese soldiers. People cheered and waved the flags for the Japanese troops sent for China and the success story of Maj. Kim, wound up the Koreans ethos to acquire pride and confidence, generating the inter-fraternity between the Japanese and the Korean. Tibon Yung, Nationalist and Choi Lim, Leader of Korean Christianity performed a war-victory ceremony at Choson Shrine to surprise the high officials of the Korea High Commission.
Under the circumstances, over three thousand Korean youths
applied for the recruiting test performed in 1938 to volunteer
for the Japanese Imperial Army, whereas the limit was four hundred.
The number of the Korean
applicants increased year by year to reach, in 1942, sixty-two times more than the limit. At last, the number of such applicants in 1943 marked 300,000 Koreans in total to cover the majority of the Korean young men in
eighteen to twenty-two years old, out of the total Korean population of 2,4000,000. This is an unbelievable truth to both Korean and Japanese youths of today.
Kyoung Nok Choi, former Korean ambassador to Japan, was one
of the volunteers. Even though he was admitted to the Japanese
Imperial Army Academy, he left for the New Guinea front together
with the regiment to which he belonged, saying "I fear I
may lose the chance to serve the Country if I stayed in school
too long." There is no doubt that there were a certain number
of Koreans who was not willing to serve for Japan, nevertheless,
there were also a great number of Koreans who volunteered for
the Japanese military. Thus, the military service obligation for
the Korean males became compulsory in 1944. To draft Korean nationals,
it is impossible unless to trust their loyalty; in their anti-Japanese
mood, one must wonder which ways their guns will be pointed.
The Korean leaders agitated their young men to rise for Japan. For your reference, we quote the speech by Yoeng Han Jue (later became a Diet member of South Korea) titled "Answer me, Roosevelt": Mr. Roosevelt, a pyromaniac in the world wearing fake-mask of justice and working for intrigue and exploitation, you always open your mouth by advocating Justice and human rights. Do you remember what you have done? When Japan insisted imposing, at the Peace Treaty Conference held at Paris after World War I, the abandon of the racial prejudice for the Oriental and Negro people. Who were and what countries were against Japan's motion and turned down the same. Who did or what countries did discriminate Orient people and Negroes and let them sit at different seat? Now, your luck is gone. As well as the Japanese of 100 million people, we Korean of 2.4 million will vow to be a brave soldier for the sacred war of Great Asia." The Korean leaders appealed for Korean young men unitedly such Apartheid.
5: Financial Assistance by Japan to Korea.
The Korean national budget in 1911 just after the Korean annexation by Japan, was \ 52 million yen in revenue, containing the Japanese subsidy 12 million yen and the public loan 10 million yen revealing that the Korean Economy would have bankrupted without such financial token from Japan. The ratio of these Japanese aids decreased year by year but it existed until 1945. The total volume of the Japanese assets left in Korea when Japan lost war, was measured in many ways and certified. On the other hand, The General Head Quarter of the allied nations calculated such assets to be worth 5,200 million dollars (then worth \ 79 billion yen at 15 yen/dollar). It's value of this time is 80 trillion yen, conversion by ratio of national budget.
The personal income tax system was introduced in 1934, which taxation ratio was one half of the Japanese then ratio, for its spread taxation ratio was decreased to be less percentage. The liquor tax was less than that of Mainland Japan. These facts makes us believe that no economical exploitation was ever performed in Korea under the Japanese governance.
6: Labor exploitation sustained
In Marxist economics, the capitalists exploit the laborers who were compelled to work hard, and severely did so in the colonized nations; this thesis has become a common sense among the Japanese left-wings. The labor statistics reveal that the wage rate of Korean workers was between 50% to 70% of its Japanese counterparts, or 50% to 60% in 1910's and in 1930's when Japan was in depression, by 60% to 70% in 1920's and end of 1930's when it was in high time. These wage increase trend for Korean laborers did not fall thereafter.
However, it is denounced as exploitation, due to the fact that
the wages were lower than Japan, without considering the difference
of the productivity then prevailing between Japan and Korea. The
statistics in the coal mine shows that the Japanese production
volume per man was 160 MT whereas the Korean
output was 100 MT only, to have met with the wage spread in between. How do they criticize the current status of Korean companies which have invested in South Asia? Their aim was to utilize the cheap labor cost paid to such regional people by the Korean labor-intensive Industries. Do they criticize this phenomenon as an economic exploitation? No, Never. Why not? Contrary to the above fact, These Asian nations have welcomed foreign investments, instead of denouncing as such, viewing that such investment would surely take-off their national economy; so was the Japanese investment into Korea. What is on earth difference between the Korean capitals landing to the south undeveloped countries after World War II and the Japanese capitals landing to Korea before World War II?
To our surprise, the same amount of salaries was paid not only to the commissioned high officials of Japanese but also to those of Korean natives. That is to say, the salary table was the same with no racial discrimination. Needless to say, the special pay-incentives for overseas service was promised for the Japanese officials as seen in the current business and diplomatic world including such incentives. The volume of such incentives was so intensive to mark fifty percent up against its rate-salary, that the bright and competent officials should be recruited for the overseas services of Korea where the living standards were quite different and far behind from Japan. In 1944 and onwards, the salary system was improved to witness that the Korean officials received the same incentives paid to the Japanese officials in his Korean service. In other words, Korean officials working in Korea received the salary and incentives but Japanese officials working in Japan received only salary not incentives. Without Japan, what other country, or what other white races belonging to the Western Powers, has ever committed and performed Such equal and non-discriminating policy?
7.Conclusion: Japanese exploitation was an illusion.
There are many people who simply think that Japan exploited Korea so much, basing on the various kinds of media who wrongly and mistakenly reported. Those media holler that Japan robbed the minerals and lumbers from Korea; these materials are valueless as long as being left unexplored and lumbers are reproductive.
Nowadays, the underdeveloped countries have invited the industrial investment from the developed countries like G-Seven giants with their financial aid and technical know-how. Nobody of those developing nations ever cites that those economic giants are exploiting them of anything. Is there any diversity or difference between these economical actions and the Japanese enterprising at Korea after the annexation instead of colonization? The Japanese firms invested the money and introduced their technology to Korea, and re-invested their profits again without transferring their net proceedings back to Japan. They taught and cultivated those Korean man-powers who could operate the Korean factories and manage to run the firms after the Korean War, regardless the public sectors or private.
The GDP of South Korea until 1960 could not catch up with that
of Japan, and the economical gap in GDP between the two countries
was actually enlarged in reverse. This fact proves that Japan
did not exploit Korea, and that the Japanese exploitation over
Korea was an illusion. The Korean industrial revolution initiated
by Governor-General Kazushige Ugaki, commenced smoothly with the
regular economic growth in 1930 years until 1941, during the period
which the spirit between the Japanese and Koreans greatly homogenized.
Im Choi, one of the 3.1 anti-Japan movement leaders proclaimed on the Mei-Il newspaper on December 10, 1941, two days after Japan raided on Pearl Harbor: "How long did we wait for this day.------- we have produced our surname, volunteered to be one of the Imperial soldiers, and become Imperial nationals. From now on, we will have to train ourselves physically and play the role of a shield with our all might". Such slogan was energetically publicized in the propaganda "Knock out America and Britain" and Korea was never under the enslaved condition.