The Fabrication of “Forced Conscription”
No “forced conscription” in the oral accounts
Interviewer: Turning to an examination of what the first generation experienced, you quote a variety of oral accounts in your book from a report published in 1988 by the Youth Association of Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), Tell me about that day, Father：The movement to restore the history of Korean residents in Japan [Apogi, Kikasete, Ano Hi no Koto o: Wareware no Rekishi o Torimodosu Undo].
Professor Chung: This report is from the time of the textbook dispute of 1982 when a fact-finding survey was conducted of first generation Korean residents, with a total of 1106 sending in some sort of response. There are other compilations of oral accounts, however I raise this one as it persuasive due to the research having been undertaken by Korean residents themselves.
What has great significance are the words of the editor at the beginning of the chapter entitled “Reasons for coming to Japan”;
Japan was embroiled in war through the conflict between Japan and China that began in 1937. Whilst the Pacific War commenced in 1941, Japan had used Korea as a labor supply source since the Manchurian Incident, seeking out massive labor and military forces from that country. This gave rise to the order for what is known as “forced conscription” of the citizenry, which continued unabated to the end of the war. The method used was to drive a truck into a village when peasants were resting at lunch, threaten them with bayonets and to take them away by force (omitted).
In other words, the editor summed up matters by saying that violent forced conscription took place and that Korean residents were the victims of the same.
However if we examine the oral accounts contained in the report, there are almost no accounts of the kind the editor was anticipating.
Certainly we can discern that that they were thrown into factories in a foreign country and forced to do hard labor, however there are almost no accounts of actual “conscription” such as driving a truck into a village, threatening people with bayonets and taking them away by force.