Japan’s Annexation of Korea
Japan’s Annexation of Korea
—It Was the Japanese People Who Were Forcibly Deprived—
By Matsuki Kunitoshi, a researcher of Japan-Korea Issues
As a matter of fact, I used to work for a trading company and I have known Korea for 30 years. I was once stationed in Seoul for four and a half years, from 1980 to 1984. By myself, I learned to read, write and speak Korean. Though I am not a scholar, I would like to vividly tell what Korea is really like, based on my own experience, through long and close involvement with Korea as well as with various traceable primary sources that I have obtained so far.
1. The true phase of anti-Japanese Korean national sentiment
First of all, let me explain what Korean anti-Japanese sentiment is actually like. There are many tremendously biased beliefs about Japan.
First, the Koreans believe that modern Japanese culture is extremely base, and that they are determined not to be spoilt by it. Up until 2003, Japanese songs were thought to be so vulgar that they were totally prohibited from being aired on TV and radio, and that no one was allowed to sing them in public. Japanese movies were also banned. In 2003, Korea in principle lifted the bans, but voluntary restriction has been continuously exercised. Please refer to Source 1.
The Chosun Ilbo dated September 17, 2003, General Section A caricature appeared in the general section of the Chosun Ilbo on the occasion of liberation from Japanese culture in 2003.
① It is a caricature shown in the Chosun Ilbo (lit. Korea Daily News) on the occasion of the liberation of Japanese culture in Korea. “Deeply emotional….they used to come secretly aboard smugglers, but now, led by a military man waving his sword, strip-teasers, outlaws, under-18 X-rated movies, vulgar Japanese music records came rushing in!” The Chosun Ilbo is one of the most prestigious newspapers in Korea, and yet the paper undauntedly put a caricature loudly disgracing Japanese culture on their second page.
I happened to see the very paper while I was visiting Korea on business, and on my return home to Japan, I protested against the caricature to the manager of the Japanese branch of the Chosun Ilbo, which was never answered. Incidentally, the then manager was Paek Zhen-xun, who is now a Democratic member of the Diet, ardently advocating for the suffrage for foreign residents.
② Secondly, the Koreans believe that traditional Japanese culture was entirely taught by Korea. Not to mention Judo and Karate, Kendo (Japanese fencing), flower arrangement, and Chanoyu, or tea ceremony, were all handed down to the Japanese by the Koreans. They say that there is no such thing called “original” Japanese culture. (Recently, the Koreans also claimed that Chinese characters were a Korean invention.)
③ Thirdly, the Koreans believe that in all the fields of politics, economics and sports, Japan regards Korea as its biggest opponent, and that Japan is permeated with a paranoiac consciousness and is driven to stifle Korea by using every unfair means available.
During my stay in Seoul, the Korean media was filled with hostile reports toward Japan, covering all ranges of politics, economics and even sports. See Source 2.
This is the controversial article in which Kim Yu-Na reportedly said, “I was interrupted by a Japanese skater during my pre-competition practice.” The fact is that an SBS interviewer arbitrarily added “by a Japanese skater” in an attempt to appeal to anti-Japanese public sentiment. Consequently, a protest against the comment was raised by the Japanese Skating Association, but SBS did not make any corrections, let alone an apology.
The Yomiuri Shimbun dated November 29, 2008
Interruption by a Japanese skater? In fact, a reporter of SBS arbitrarily added the part “by a Japanese skater”, catering to the anti-Japanese Korean viewers. In spite of
protest by Japan, neither an apology nor correction was made.
④ Fourthly, the Koreans believe that Japan still harshly discriminate against Koreans. Actress Choe Jiu, after returning from Japan, commented on seeing Japanese people around her all wearing masks, “Japanese people wore masks in disgust because I smelled of Kimchi (Korean pickles). And I felt discriminated.” The comment created quite a sensation and helped make the actress more popular. The truth was that Japanese people wore masks because they were suffering from hay fever.
“About the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923”
The following is what I heard from a Korean friend of mine. On the occasion of the Great Kanto Earthquake, Korean newspaper reporters ventured into the devastated region, eagerly hoping to make a scoop, on-the-spot reporting of a massacre of Koreans and to disseminate this hideous news to the world. What they actually saw on the scene was a Japanese and a Korean sharing a small piece of a rice ball and eating it together. “This is absurdly impossible.” “I cannot make a report out of this.” The Korean reporters went home, panic-stricken.
Source 3: A scene of discrimination against Japanese
Lake Hills Country Club in the city of Seogwipo Cheju Island.
(March 18, 2005, Yonhap News)
The sign, “No Admittance of Dogs and Japanese,” is sometimes seen in Seoul. (A report from JoongAng Ilbo The Central Journal)
“No Japanese golfers admitted”
Let’s look at Source 3. This is a photo taken at the Lake Hills Country Club on Cheju
Island in Korea at the time of the controversy in Japan over the adoption of history textbooks in 2005. “No Japanese golfers admitted.” They say that the Japanese discriminates against Koreans, but in reality, Koreans themselves are committing explicit racial discrimination. This kind of behavior is not allowed in Japan. But the sign presents no problem in Korea. In order to attract more customers using anti-Japanese sentiment, a restaurant put up a sign saying, “No admittance of dogs and Japanese.” (A similar article appeared in the JoongAng Ilbo (Central Daily News). We should bear it in mind that there are actual cases of open discrimination against Japanese people.
⑤ Fifthly, they believe that Japan ruled Korea in the cruelest way, unprecedented in world history. “Now, in return, we Koreans should occupy Japan and take our revenge upon it.”
Speaking from my own experiences, almost all of the Koreans feel the same way. I was once told, “I hate Japanese people, unconditionally!” One of my acquaintances, a student from Japan, was a home-tutor of a wealthy Korean family. One day a kindergartener of the family looked at a page of an encyclopedia showing national flags of countries of the world, and then said, “We must take revenge,” pointing to the rising
sun Japanese flag.
⑥ Lastly, they believe that the Japanese are a savage and belligerent nation and that Japan is sure to invade the Korean Peninsula again. Please refer to Source 4
Source 4: Japan is a bigger threat than North Korea,
The Yomiuri Shimbun of March 15, 2008
According to a survey conducted by Seoul University, a high percentage of ordinary Koreans think that Japan is a bigger military threat to the security of the Peninsula than North Korea.
At present, the country that poses the biggest threat to Korea is neither North Korea nor China, but Japan. Affected by dyed-in-the-wool anti-Japanese sentiment instilled into them since their kindergarten days, most Koreans imagine that their major enemy is Japan. Throughout Korea, there are heated discussions over the idea that Korea should strengthen its military power to the ratio of six to four against Japan in order to cope with the Japanese Aegis ships.
How, then, have the Koreans come to bear such sheer prejudice against Japan?
1) The Idea of Lesser China
There is still the deep-rooted idea of Lesser China that puts China at the center of the world with Korea next to China. Japan is absolutely inferior to Korea. Koreans firmly believe, even now, that savage Japan shall be forever disciplined.
2) Unsparing anti-Japanese education (Hate-Japan education)
Please refer to Source 5.
a rally against a history
textbook published by the Society
for History Textbook Reform in 2001.
We are totally appalled by the way in which they impose hatred toward
Japan upon innocent young children.
As appalling as the previously mentioned kindergartener bearing thoughts of vengeance against Japan, this is a photo showing kindergarteners in the midst of an anti-Japanese demonstration. This was taken at the time when a history textbook devised by the Society for History Textbook Reform was a big issue. From as early as
kindergarten, Korean minds are imbued with anti-Japanese ideas. Naturally, kindergarteners will speak of vengeance against Japan. “The soul of the three years old will last until he is one hundred.” Do they carry out this saying this far? We cannot but feel apprehension at this picture.
Let’s look at Source 6
Source 6: The Independence Memorial (“Hate-Japan” educational institution)
This is a wax doll display at the Independence Memorial which was built to eternally preserve the hatred borne against Japan during the history textbook controversy in 1982. This is a torture scene of a young woman named Liu Kuan-shun, who is referred to as heroine of the 3-1 Movement that aimed for independence of Korea. A taped moaning sound is also heard. It is required for elementary, junior and senior high school students to visit the memorial. No wonder young people feel that it is their duty to defeat Japan. Anti-Japanese sentiment among Korean children gradually reaches a critical point, and as occasions rise, they eagerly tear, stomp and burn Japanese national flags, loudly denouncing “Beast Japan” to the world.
I don’t have time to explain about the 3-1 Movement in detail. In any case, torture, as exhibited in the Independence Memorial, never actually occurred during the period of Japanese rule. In fact, Japan was so flabbergasted at the cruelty of tortures inflicted upon Koreans during the Joseon Dynasty that Japan prohibited all forms of torture by amending the criminal law in 1908 and stipulated that those who committed the crime of torture shall be punished with imprisonment and hard labor over a term of 3 years. The torture exhibit at the Independence Memorial actually tells of tortures inflicted upon Koreans by their fellow Koreans.
So far, readers may well see how wrongly the Koreans think of Japan on the grounds
of distorted prejudice and misunderstanding.
2. Argument against Korean beliefs
Now, I would like to start to argue against anti-Japanese criticism, which is totally based on prejudice and misconceptions. First of all, I must point out that in Japan we often say, “Let the past pass and let’s create a new relationship,” but this is absolutely impossible. For, the culture of “letting the past pass” does not exist in Korea. In Korean society, the “past” remains absolute both in the past and at present, and individual and diplomatic relations have been totally restrained by the past and cannot exist apart from the past.
Three years ago, in 2007, a law to confiscate property owned by Japan-friendly citizens was enacted, and those whose ancestors used to be pro-Japanese are to have their property confiscated. The law, totally impossible in a modern state, actually passed in the National Assembly of South Korea and was taken for granted. In such a society, if one sticks to the past as it was, one may incur unfavorable situations. Why not, then, assert the past as it conveniently “should have been” and stand by it until the end? To distort and disgrace the past of rivals may be accepted as a clever strategy.
In the social background like this, after Korea achieved its national independence, the Korean government tried to unite the confused nation with an anti-Japanese cause. At the same time, in order to make future negotiations with Japan advantageous, they changed the past and made up the “seven deprivations”. They claim that during Japanese rule, Japan deprived Korea of seven vital things, namely, “king,” “sovereignty,” “personal name,” “land,” “national language,” “resources,” and “human life,” and have been teaching this as “historical fact” to Korean children via the educational system for more than sixty years.
I will proceed to smash these “seven deprivations” one by one.
① By the way, of the seven deprivations, claims regarding the king, sovereignty and land are sheer lies too absurd to refute, and so I will explain only briefly the major points concerning them.
At the time of annexation, the Yi Royal Family was not abolished, but, instead, it was entitled to membership into the Imperial Family. Chunzong was designated a “grand duke”, ranking in the middle, between the Crown Prince and other members of royalty. Please see Source 7.
„Estimated annual expenditure of the Office of Governor-General of Korea from fiscal 1935 to 1940.‟ The top section indicates the annual allowance for the Yi Royal Family. With one yen at that time being currently equivalent to ¥10,000, the allowance is worth ¥18 billion now. Korea abolished the Yi Royal Family after it became independent of Japan.
Shown here is the annual expenditure budget of the Office of Governor-General of Korea from 1935 to fiscal 1940. (an extract from The 30-year History of the Administration of the Office of Governor-General of Korea) The top column indicates that ¥1.8 million was annually appropriated as expenditure for the Yi Royal Family. As members of the Imperial Family, they were allowed to spend such a large amount of money, which is currently worth ¥18 billion. This figure alone illustrates that claiming “Japan destroyed the Yi Royal Family and thus deprived the Koreans of their king” is a sheer lie. In fact, it is widely known that the Koreans themselves abolished the Yi Royal Family after World War II and established a republic.
Korea had long been incorporated in the Chinese regime by imperial decree and had never been a sovereign state. After Japan was victorious over China in the Sino-Japanese War, Korea became a sovereign state, called the Korean Empire, for the first time. The annexation was achieved by the agreement reached between two sovereign states. Japan never deprived Korea of its sovereignty.
Korea claims that Japan conducted a land survey and then took 40% of its land. This is an utterly false charge. During the Joseon Dynasty, there was no concept of land ownership. As a result of the land survey, land ownership became valid, and consequently it was made possible to establish a modern state. Land whose ownership failed to be clarified became state-owned, but that was merely 4% of the entire country. Later, this land was disposed of to Korean farmers at a low price.
② Argument against the claim that Japan deprived Korea of its national language
A state-designated textbook for Korean elementary schools reads: “People were forced to use Japanese and were not allowed to freely use Korean letters and language.”
A textbook compiled by publisher Tokyo Shoseki, which accounts for 50% of the entire junior high school history textbooks used in Japan, says, “At school, they were prohibited from teaching Korean history and taught Japanese history and language, instead, and thus education was used to make Koreans become Japanese.”
However, these descriptions are totally contrary to the facts.
In the first place, the Hangul alphabet was created by scholars under the direction of Sejong, the fourth emperor of the Joseon Dynasty, in the 14th century. However, the newly invented alphabet was thought to be inferior to Chinese characters and as such was despised and was seldom used. The tenth emperor Ensan-kun even strictly banned its use.
The truth is that the abandoned Hangul alphabet was rediscovered by none other than a Japanese, Fukuzawa Yukichi. As soon as exchanges between Japan and Korea were resumed after the Meiji Restoration, Fukuzawa passionately took to modernizing Korea. He accepted many Korean students into Keio University and he himself studied Korean history and culture. He was very much interested in the Hangul alphabet. “Look, this is great! Korea has a phonetic alphabet just as we do here in Japan.” He thought, “If this alphabet is used in the same way as the Japanese alphabet, it will be very helpful to read Chinese in the Korean way and greatly contribute to Korean cultural development.”
However, the Hangul alphabet at that time was too irregular and diversified to function as a systematized alphabet. In order to overcome this fault, Fukuzawa assembled scholars both from Japan and Korea and let them study and systematize the alphabet. Thanks to Fukuzawa’s great contribution, the Hangul alphabet was finally perfected as a modern language system.
Afterwards, following the annexation of Japan and Korea, ordinary schools (elementary schools using Korean as the daily language) were built in large numbers nation-wide and consequently the Hangul alphabet came to be used throughout the Korean Peninsula. Source 8-1 shows the ordinary school textbook, Korean Reader Volume 1, issued by the Office of Governor-General of Korea in 1924. This clearly illustrates the fact that the Office of Governor-General of Korea spread the Hangul alphabet all over Korea.
Incidentally, Source 8-2 also shows a textbook of morals for ordinary schools. It is written both in Japanese and Hangul alphabets. The illustration shows a Japanese gentleman with a hat off in his hand asking a Korean child for directions. Though Korea blames Japan for the “worst colonial rule in all of human history”, this illustration eloquently tells of how both Japanese and Koreans were treated without discrimination, as equal human beings, during this very period.
Furthermore, the Office of Governor-General of Korea also carried out standardization of the Korean language beside the Hangul alphabet. At the time of the annexation, the Korean language was divided into at least three dialect groups which marred clear and smooth communication. It is the same as when people speaking widely different dialects, such as Tsugaru and Kagoshima, have difficulty making each other understood. Thinking that this situation was a big drawback to modernization efforts, the Office of Governor-General of Korea designated the language spoken in and around Seoul as the standard Korean language, and duly spread it through ordinary schools
across the country. The spread of the Hangul alphabet and standardized Korean was a
Korean ordinary school reader published by the Office of Governor-General of Korea in 1923. It can be clearly seen that great emphasis was put on Hangul education.
Korean ordinary school textbook of morals published in 1922. The illustration shows a Japanese man with his hat off in his hand asking a Korean child for directions.
gift brought by the modernization measures implemented by the Office of Governor-General of Korea.
The Office of Governor-General of Korea respected Korean history and culture
Next, is the assertion true that the Office prohibited the teaching of Korean history as Korean and Japanese textbooks describe? Please refer to Source 9. Korean Reader Volume 5, published by the Office of Governor-General of Korea in 1924. I will quote part of it:
“Kyongju was an old capital of Sinra…Age-old rivers and mountains provided an everlasting peaceful region…It was not a mere coincidence that as the capital of the kingdom, the city enjoyed prosperity for more than 99 years.” “Dansongdae was constructed during the Sinra period. With the height of 8.7 meters, it is the oldest observatory in the East, claiming world-class significance.” “In the city of Kyongju, the Wisan Museum attracts many visitors. In the Museum, various ruins unearthed in the region are well preserved. …People can see how magnificent the Sinra culture had been!” “In the stone cave hall, twenty-nine Buddhist statues are carved on the surrounding walls of the dome-like cave. These elegant statues are a symbol of pride of Eastern art.”
These descriptions demonstrate the ardent efforts made by the Office of Governor-General of Korea, trying to teach of the excellent history of Korea to school children and to nurture pride in their minds. The author of the Tokyo Shoseki textbook who wrote “teaching Korean history was prohibited” is a despicable fellow. I cannot help but call him traitor, who has abandoned scholastic consciousness.
In 1923, the Office of Governor-General of Korea also instructed to increase the volume of Korea-related descriptions in ordinary school history textbooks, for they thought accounts on Korean history were not sufficient. It was an unarguable fact that the Office of Governor-General of Korea, with deep respect toward Korean culture and tradition, consistently made unwavering endeavors to make Korea a modern nation.
Ordinary school textbook published in 1924. We know that the Office of Governor-General of Korea made great efforts to teach school children about Korea‟s excellent history and culture, and to nurture national pride in their young minds.
Japanese government employees were encouraged to learn the Korean language
Korea claims that during Japanese rule Japan deprived Korea of the Korean language and forced Japanese on Korean people. If their claims were true, then all Koreans at that time could have spoken Japanese. See Source 10. The Office of Governor-General of Korea Administration Almanac, 1941 edition mentions the spread of the national language (Japanese). As of the end of 1941, those who “can barely understand Japanese” and those who “can manage ordinary conversation in Japanese” amounted to 3.9 million, which was 16% of the entire Korean population at that time. (We must not forget that they were all bilingual.) What language, then, would the remaining non-Japanese speaking 84% have used if they had been deprived of Korean?
The fact was totally the opposite. The same almanac (Source 10) has an item listed as “encouragement of the Korean language for Japanese people from Japan proper. As this is very important, allow me to quote a lengthy excerpt:
“We fear that there may occur some misunderstanding among the Korean people in the carrying out of law enforcement duties, industrial encouragement and tax collection, largely because officials in charge of the work do not understand the Korean language. Therefore, for the officials from Japan proper working in the Office of Governor-General of Korea and other governmental offices, and especially those local workers who constantly keep in touch with Korean people, this Office thinks it necessary to encourage the learning of Korean… thereby issue a regulation regarding the encouragement to learn Korean…those officials from Japan proper who are good speakers of Korean shall be rewarded with bonus pay. Learning of Korean shall be further recommended, and this regulation shall be thoroughly implemented. With emphasis on producing greater numbers of those who can understand Korean insofar as no inconveniences are incurred in dealing with their daily work in future, we are earnestly trying to encourage learning of the Korean language.”
This was the actual situation at the end of 1941. Those who were masterly speakers of Korean were given bonus pay and Japanese officials were ardently learning Korean. Looking at this source, no one will deny how absurdly groundless the Korean assertion, that “they were deprived of Korean,” is.
The Administration Almanac of the Office of Governor-General of Korea, 1941 Edition.
As of the end of 1941, Koreans who could barely speak Japanese accounted for mere 16% of the entire population. The Office of Governor-General of Korea enthusiastically encouraged Japanese officials to learn the Korean language, even offering incentive pay.
③ Koreans themselves demanded the “alteration of given names”
Next, I will refute the claim that “Koreans were deprived of their names.” Originally, the Office of Governor-General of Korea prohibited Koreans to use Japanese-style names by Office of Governor-General of Korea Decree No.124: “Regarding changing of surnames and personal names of Koreans.” The decree was aimed to preserve Korean tradition and their way of life, and at the same time to prevent various inconveniences from occurring if there was no distinction, name-wise, between Japanese and Koreans.
Despite this fact, why, then, was the act of “creating family names and changing personal names” implemented 30 years after annexation? The immediate reason was that there was a strong request from Koreans belonging to the Manchurian development corps. In 1930s, many Koreans immigrated into Manchuria and were engaged in developing farm land. Villages of Korean farmers were often raided by bandits and mounted bandits. Though they were Japanese legally, their Korean names made them targets of insult and plunder from the Chinese. Bandits knew that the Japanese were strong and they avoided attacking the Japanese in most cases. So, the major targets became Korean farmers. Korean villagers would protest, “We are Japanese,” to attacking bandits. However, when asked to state their names, they would inadvertently cry out, “Lee!” or “Pak!” and sure enough, on hearing these names, Chinese bandits instantly knew that they were Koreans and attacked them immediately as easy prey. After the Manposan Incident in 1931, and many Koreans were killed by the Chinese, demand for assuming Japanese-style names became all the more urgent among Koreans.
Furthermore, even from ordinary people, voices ardently requesting name changing became louder every day, who claimed, “We have been Japanese for nearly 30 years now, and yet we are still not allowed to use Japanese names. This is nothing but discrimination against dwellers of the Korean Peninsula. Let us have Japanese-style names.” The Office of Governor-General of Korea could no longer ignore these voices. Within the Office, the Department of Education (Education Ministry) supported the name changing on the grounds of universal brotherhood, while the Police Department (Police Agency) argued against it on the basis of public safety. After three years of heated arguments, the Korean Census Register Law was finally revised in 1940.
“Surnames” were not changed
What were the contents of the revision, then? With a view towards preserving Korean culture and tradition, the Office of Governor-General of Korea decided to let surnames stand as they were and to create new family names in the register.
In Korea sons and daughters equally inherited their father’s surname and women did not change their names after marriage. There was no family name representing a family unit, as seen in the Japanese family register.
In order to let Koreans use Japanese-style names without changing their ancestral surnames, Japanese-style family names were contrived as a compromise. (If Korean surnames were to be changed, the whole scheme should have been called “changing surnames” and not “creating family names.”)
Moreover, this law was a time-limited legislation. “Family names” were to be registered within six months of February 11, 1940. Of course, it was possible to register one’s former surname as family name, and if registration was not made within six months, the original surname was registered as family name (legally created family names).
However, Korean people thought it useless to have Japanese-style family names, if their Korean personal names remained the same. In order to meet people’s request to also change their registered personal names, the Civil Law was revised at the same time and consequently it was made possible to change into Japanese-style personal names, on the condition that the court should approve of the change as justifiable and that the applicant should pay a fee. Upon this, the institution of creating family and changing personal names was accomplished.
The above fact is clearly stated in The Office of Governor-General of Korea Administration Almanac 1940 Edition (Source 11) as follows.
“Though the Korean Census Register Decree has been changed, the conventional surname and place of origin (place of ancestral origin) shall be put in the register.” “Outside the case of the creation of a new family, citizens shall not be allowed to use other surnames than their own as family name and at the same time, principally family names and personal names shall not be changed. If there is a justifiable reason for the change, with the approval of the court, names shall be changed.”
There were no forced name changes
Korea asserts that the creation of family names and the alteration of given names was forcibly done on the ground that as many as 80% of the Korean population put Japanese-style names as the family name, albeit voluntarily. Is this true? In Taiwan, which was also under Japanese rule, merely 2% or less of the Taiwanese used Japanese-style family names. In the case of Taiwan, very strict conditions were imposed upon name changing, such as requiring the ability of speaking Japanese and proof of no criminal records among relatives, which naturally accounted for this small number.
It is clearly stated that “although the Korean Census Register Decree has been revised, the old surname and place of origin (place where the family was originally born) shall be put in the register.” The claim of “deprived surnames” is a sheer historical distortion.
In Korea, on the other hand, under the ideal of universal brotherhood, the Koreans were regarded as the subjects of the Japanese Emperor, and no restrictions were imposed. The “creation of family names and alteration of given names” was an Imperial benefit bestowed upon the Korean people. In this atmosphere, movements sprang up in towns and villages here and there, advocating, “Let’s all change to Japanese-style names in order to show our gratitude toward the Office of Governor-General of Korea for making this benevolent law for us.” Seeing this situation, Governor-General Minami Jiro feared that Japanese names might be forced upon Koreans and he actually issued orders saying “name changing must not be forced” even three times during the six-month period of application. (Source 12)
There also prevailed an atmosphere, wherein using Japanese names was a must because people met with various inconveniences in work and other circumstances, unless they used Japanese-style names. Accordingly, some may claim that this constituted a forced practice.
Now, let’s look at Source 13. This is an article dated 1941, a year after the practice of name changing of 1940. The headline proudly reads, “Mr. Lee won meritorious first place.” A person named Kim won a prize, and the article says, “The morale of the Korean team went up sky-high!” These articles prove that ordinary people were doing fine with Korean names. In fact, I hear that some Japanese fondly regarded Koreans who proudly used Korean names as brave and trustworthy.
Naturally, there were those who had to reluctantly change to Japanese names during the “civil movements of alteration to Japanese-style names that took place in the Korean community.” But those were minor incidents that happened in the Korean community and it is an extreme distortion of history to call this a “forced practice by Japan.” At that time, Japan was one of the five powers in the world, and with that prestigious status, the Japanese could walk proudly and confidently everywhere in the world. It is a historical fact, when seen from an overall perspective, that a great number of Koreans aspired to become Japanese citizens, both in name and in reality, which led to the overwhelming figure of 80%.
By the way, Kim, Lee and Pak are originally Chinese names. They had already changed to Chinese surnames. Why, then, did they stubbornly resist changing their names this time?
Governor-General Minami repeatedly admonished that the practice was not compulsory at all, trying to prevent the voluntary movement to promote the creation and alteration of names from running wild and going too far.
An article appeared the year following the “creation and alteration of names”, showing that ordinary Koreans were getting along fine with their Korean names.
④ Argument against the accusation that Japan took Korean lives
—In fact, Japan increased Korean population.
Korea accuses Japan of “taking lives.” Figures of statistics alone tell the truth. While the Korean population at the time of Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910 was roughly 13 million, the population nearly doubled to about 25 million in 1945, when the War ended. This miraculous twofold increase was achieved mainly by the following factors. As a result of a policy to promote farming by the Office of Governor-General of Korea, Korean farm production remarkably increased and prevented deaths by starvation. Thanks to modern medical knowledge and technology spread by the Governor-General’s Office, sanitation was greatly improved, epidemics were reduced to almost nil and infant mortality dramatically dropped. Through the introduction of a modern judicial system, torture and cruel punishment, which had been performed during the Joseon Dynasty, were abolished, and a safe and stable society was realized with an emphasis on the protection of human lives. By the various policy measures implemented by Japan, the Korean population, which had not increased at all for 500 years during the Joseon Dynasty, almost instantly doubled. The fact is that far from “depriving Korean lives”, Japan miraculously increased the Korean population.
Pitfall of the “Comfort Women Issue”
Against the mention of good things done by Japan, Korea invariably brings up the issue of the “comfort women” and demands an apology from Japan, arguing that forcibly depriving young women of their chastity and making them sex slaves is nothing less than taking their lives.
In point of fact, Korean criticism against Japan over the “comfort women issue” is based on fabrication and distortion of the facts. Not realizing that Korean criticism is totally groundless, Japan easily apologizes for the false claim, which makes the matter all the more grave.
Female Volunteer Corps was distortedly turned into comfort women.
First all, the big historical distortion is that “Female Volunteer Corps” is equal to “comfort women”. According to the book entitled Tale of the Republic of Korea by Lee Yongxun, Korean junior and senior high school history textbooks describe, “Japan mobilized young, chaste Korean women under the pretext of forming volunteer corps and victimized them to serve as comfort women for the Japanese Army.” “The number of these women reached hundreds of thousands.” Please refer to Source 14. The official name of the civil organization actively pushing the comfort women issue is the Korean
Council for Resolution of the Female Volunteer Corps Issue, and on their home-page, they make the following assertion:
“The Japanese comfort women issue is about the unprecedented, cruel wartime crime committed by Imperial Japan, whereby in a systematic national scheme 100,000 or 200,000 Asian women were forcibly abducted and were made to serve the Japanese Army as sex slaves.”
Look at Source 15. Here, we can see member of the Japanese Diet, Ms. Okazaki Tomiko. A student behind her is holding a sign that reads “University Council for the Female Volunteer Corps Issue.”
Home Page of the Korean Conference for Resolution of Female Volunteer Corps Issue. The Japanese Army‟s comfort women issue is an unprecedented, cruel wartime crime committed by Imperial Japan, whereby in a systematic national scheme, 100,000 or 200,000 Asian women were forcibly abducted and were made to serve the Japanese Army as sex slaves.
A Korean student protests for the “comfort women issue” in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. He holds a sign that reads, “University Conference for the Female Volunteer Corps ”. The woman at the center is Democratic Diet member, Ms. Okazaki Tomiko.
Female Volunteer Corps was a wartime labor mobilization
The Female Volunteer Corps had nothing to do with the comfort women. The Female Volunteer Corps was established in 1943 and it was a labor service corps, consisting of women aged between 14 and 25. Men went to war and in order to fill the labor shortage, women worked in factories and helped keep national production going. In 1944, orders of the Female Volunteer Corps were promulgated and many women went to work in factories. The same labor mobilization measures were taken also in Europe and the United States. Actually, Japan was rather behind them in introducing labor mobilization.
The orders did not come into effect in Korea, but some women went to work in factories following the direction adopted at schools. They were of course engaged in productive activities, and they cannot have been made comfort women. See Source 16. So far, 175 women have confessed that they were comfort women, but none of them have testified that they were mobilized into the Female Volunteer Corps. As Koreans assert, if the Female Volunteer Corps had meant to forcibly take women and make them comfort women, hundreds of thousands of or even millions of mobilized Japanese young women would have all been comfort women. This is an utterly outrageous assumption.
Ms. Okazaki Tomiko, as a Diet member, should have explained to the students that
the Female Volunteer Corps and comfort women were completely different things. On the contrary, she joined them in criticizing Japan. Seeing her, am I the only one to feel dismayed at not only her hypocritical act, but also her utter hatred toward Japan?
Female Volunteer Corps are working hard in Korea.
Historical fabrication called the “slave hunt”
Another lie behind this issue is the “slave hunt”. The Japanese-constituted authorities supposedly took Korean women by force to make them comfort women. This claim was triggered by a book written by a Japanese named Yoshida Seiji. He wrote, “In Cheju Island, I and my men abducted two hundred young Korean women and sent them to the battlefields to serve as comfort women.” Accordingly, those concerned
investigated Cheju Island, and it turned out that no such event occurred. Yoshida himself later confessed that he had made it up in order to sell his book. However, once this kind of demagogic accusation of Japan’s atrocity and ruthlessness spread, it was impossible to stop and contain it. As the majority of Koreans came to believe in the “slave hunt” by Japanese government officials, a storm of criticism against Japan began to rage.
Please refer to Source 17.
Korean Internet: Japanese Army‟s comfort women fall in budding youth.
When I searched through “DAUM”, a major Internet information search engine in Korea, in pages regarding Japanese military comfort women, the description of “military comfort women (Female Volunteer Corps)” is seen, and in many cases, the following statements are posted: “Estimated hundreds of thousands of abducted women were widely aged from early teens to forties.” “In many cases women were kidnapped, abducted and forcibly taken. Japanese Army personnel directly engaged in the task or with the cooperation of the Japanese Army, civilians were in charge of mobilization.”
These are such random and irresponsible remarks.
Did Koreans allow “slave hunts” to take place before their very eyes?
However, we can easily argue against this lie. If one’s child, sister or sweetheart were forcibly taken and were about to meet the miserable fate of a comfort woman, anyone would risk his or her life to take their precious one back. Especially in Korea, where the bond of family is very strong, people would get enraged by an abduction, and a riot would surely occur, regardless of whatever punishment might be inflicted upon them afterwards. But not an incident of rioting was ever recorded. Throughout Korea, the total number of military and civil police personnel amounted to less than 14,000, half of which were Koreans. (At present, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police is more than 40,000 strong.) On top of that, almost all of the military sub-police and assistant civil police who would daily deal with the citizens were Koreans.
Under these circumstances, if the abduction of hundreds of thousands of Korean women by Japan actually had taken place, then Korean military and civil police, municipal officers, families of the abductees must all have seen women taken by a very small number of Japanese and their assistants, but do nothing at all to prevent it. Were your ancestors so apathetic and cowardly? How can Koreans argue back against this question?
Korea was a law-abiding state
Here is immovable evidence discrediting these historical distortion and fabrications. Please see Source 18. These are Seoul Ilbo (The Seoul Daily News) and Maeil Sinbo (The Mainichi Newspaper) of 1944. A private job broking firm puts in an advertisement for comfort women. (The ad says Imai Company, but after the creation and alteration of Korean names, Koreans have Japanese-style names.) In the ad, a monthly salary of ¥300 is offered, which is equivalent to pay given to a colonel or those of higher ranks. It is clearly shown here that military comfort women were not “forcibly taken,” but rather offered a job with a high salary by private brokers.
Furthermore, refer to Source 19. The Dona Ilbo (The East Asian News), dated March 15, 1939, reports: “The incident of the kidnapping of Ho In-mong is attracting much public attention. Vulturine brothel owners were involved. Police are considering sending a rescue mission. Girls were exported to foreign countries. Prosecutors began investigating job brokers.” The same paper of August 31 of the same year reports further: “Vicious brokers are rampant. Women and girls of farming villages were kidnapped. The victims exceeded one hundred. Detectives from Pusan hurried to
Pongjeon.” At that time, vicious panderers were rampant in the Korean Peninsula and many women fell victim to their deceptive allures, only to be sold and sent away to Manchuria and Shanghai. Japanese government officials were desperately searching for them in order to rescue. Naturally, they were doing their work. Korea, which at that time was a law-abiding nation, just as is present-day Japan. If the civil and military police, who were in charge of preventing and investigating crimes, had been involved in “abduction” and had “forcibly taken women” to make them comfort women, then how could a country have stood as a nation?
The Seoul Journal dated July 26, 1944 (left)
The Mainichi Journal dated October 27, 1944 (right)
Military comfort women were sought by private brokers with an offer of an unusually high salary. (Monthly salary of ¥300 was equivalent to that of a colonel‟s monthly salary.) It is clear that “forced abduction by the Japanese Army” is a totally false charge.
In Korea around 1938 and onward, vicious panderers deceived and kidnapped Korean women and trafficked them in Shanghai and Manchuria. The Japanese-constituted authorities did their best to rescue these poor women.
Now I will show you more convincing material. See Source 20. This has been brought up by an anti-Japanese organization as the very proof of the Japanese Army’s direct involvement in the matter. As proof regarding the Japanese Army’s involvement, this is the only one, and there were none before and after this. But these claimants must have only read the title: “Regarding the seeking of workers at military comfort stations”. For what is actually written here regarding the recruitment of comfort women is as follows:
1) Using the Army’s name or authority without permission may damage the Army’s prestige or incur misunderstanding.
2) There were some cases that have become social problems, where through the medium of newspaper reporters and visitors to comfort stations, women were collected without official permission.
3) Vicious panderers recruited women in such a forcible way as to be nearly kidnapping and some of them were arrested and investigated by the police.
As there were some risky cases, which demanded caution, such as the above, the authorities instructed to be very strict in choosing personnel to whom to entrust for recruiting, to keep in close contact with the local military police and police authorities and to use utmost caution lest the Army’s prestige be impaired and unfavorable social problems be incurred. Their instructions were all usual ones. How would this possibly constitute proof of forced abduction of comfort women by the Army?
On the contrary, this source reveals the following facts:
1) Recruiting of comfort women was done by private enterprises. (The Army was not directly involved in the task.)
2) The military police and the civil police were cracking down on illegal acts such as kidnapping by vicious panderers.
3) The Japanese Army tried to prevent dishonorable incidents from occurring in the process of recruiting comfort women.
The source which the leftists had hopefully brought up as decisive proof of military involvement in the matter turned out to be, ironically enough, very decisive proof of denial of military involvement.
Source 20: Can this be the only proof?
The only source that leftists have brought up as “decisive evidence” of the “Japanese Army‟s involvement”. Regarding the recruitment of comfort women,
1) Using the Army‟s name or authority without permission may damage the Army‟s prestige or incur misunderstanding.
2).There were some cases that have become social problems, where through the medium of newspaper reporters and visitors to comfort stations, women were collected without official permission.
3) Vicious panderers recruited women in such a forcible way as to be nearly kidnapping, and some of them were arrested and investigated by the police.
As there were some risky cases, which demanded caution, such as the above, the authorities instructed to be very strict in choosing personnel to whom to entrust for recruiting, to keep in close contact with the local military police and the police authorities and to use utmost caution lest the Army‟s prestige be impaired and unfavorable social problems be incurred.
On the contrary, this source reveals the following facts:
1) Recruiting of comfort women was done by private enterprisers. (The Army was not directly involved in the task.)
2) The military police and the civil police were cracking down on illegal acts such as kidnapping by vicious panderers.
3) The Japanese Army tried to prevent dishonorable incidents from occurring in the process of recruiting comfort women.
Let’s refute with confidence
“Comfort women” existed everywhere in the world and at all periods of history. There were times when prostitution was legal, and even at present some countries allow it. In Korea, after the Korean War, under the management of the constituted authorities, comfort women were provided to the U.S. Army. (Source 21)
If the existence of comfort women is inhumane, it is a universal issue of morality for all human beings and a problem to be solved over decades or even centuries by a global ethical movement involving all the peoples and countries of the world.
However, the “forced abduction of comfort women by the Japanese Army” as Koreans assert is a lie deliberately contrived to disgrace Japan. We need not hesitate to denounce this lie. We must squarely face the “comfort women issue,” thoroughly argue against it and protect the honor of the Japanese people.
⑤ Lastly, let me argue against the claim that Japan deprived Korea of its resources
“Japan’s rule of Korea is the worst example of colonialism in human history, forcibly taking 80% of Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP),” claim Koreans. “Japan did good things, too,” retorted a Japanese governmental high official and he was instantly dismissed. But wait: “colonies” were usually targeted areas of exploitation, and former European and American hegemonies deprived colonies of their resources and then sold products to the colonials to increase their own national prosperity. Colonials were not treated as humans. Did Japan actually obtain profits amounting to 80% of the Korean GDP by ruling Korea? Is it true that Japan did not treat Koreans as humans? No, the answers are definitely “no.”
Please remember the illustration in the morals textbook showing a Japanese man with his hat off asking a Korean child the way (Source 8-2). The Office of Governor-General of Korea tried to teach through the schools that Koreans and Japanese are equal. All statistics and sources verify situations quite contrary to “exploitation”.
In Korea, since the Korean War, the government was in charge of comfort women for the U.S. Army. Life is unbearably hard for comfort women who serve the U.S. Army and many cases suicides occurred, one after another.
(Dona Ilbo : January 31st, 1961 and July 21st, 1957)
Modernization was achieved by Japanese “financial resources”
—Japanese Government aid totaled ¥63 trillion.
In the first place, Korea had no resources to be deprived of. There was a small amount of tungsten and gold, but considering the developmental costs, it was much
cheaper to import them from Southeast Asia.
Far from forcibly depriving natural resources, Japan spent a huge amount of “financial resources,” namely money, developing “human capital” and generously giving “intellectual resources” in its ardent efforts to lift-up the national level of Korea. I think that Korea was not a “colony” to be deprived of, but rather a “developing region,” just like Hokkaido, to be raised to the level of mainland Japan.
Now, let me tell you how much money the Japanese Government poured into the Korean Peninsula.
Under the direction of Japan, for the first time Koreans created a national budget for fiscal year 1906, which was merely ¥7.48 million. Against this meager budget, in order to run Korea as a modern state, a budget of over ¥30 million was necessary, and so Japan paid the difference. Japan was to carry a troublesome burden.
The sum accounted for 20% of Japan’s national budget. See Source 22. The top table of Source 22 indicates the amount of aid during the period when Korea was a protectorate of Japan. “Money paid for” refers to aid money to the Korean Government. The money paid for the operation of the Korean Government and direct aid for building railroads, ports, schools and so on totaled up to 20 to 30 million yen annually, which was given to Korea. During the protectorate period prior to annexation, Japan gave Korea a sum of money, which was equivalent to three- to four-times Korean revenue, to help Korea become a modern nation. These figures alone clearly show that it was physically impossible for Korea to achieve modernization all on its own.
The chart second from the top of Source 22 indicates how dependent Korea was on Japan immediately after annexation. “Supplementary money” indicates aid to the Office of Governor-General of Korea after annexation. Of the budget of the Office of Governor-General of Korea right after annexation, revenue obtained in Korea accounted for merely half to one-third, and the rest was covered by Japanese aid.
This financial situation was not limited to the period immediately after annexation. See Source 23. The table shows the revenues of the Office of Governor-General of Korea from 1935 to 1939. (Excerpt from The 30-year History of the Administration of the Office of Governor-General of Korea, published in 1941.) From the table we learn that as of 1939, public bonds (Japan purchased most of them) and supplementary money combined to take up 25% of the total budget.
The table second from the bottom of Source 22 shows total Japanese Government aid. During Japanese rule, total aid given by Japan amounted to over ¥2 billion. If one yen at that time, between 1907 and 1944, is equivalent to 30,000 yen at current valuation, then total aid equals ¥63 trillion.
Japanese aid prior to annexation (in ¥million)
Money paid for
Direct aid money from the Japanese Government
Money paid for: monetary aid to the Korean Government during the protectorate period
Korea’s dependence on Japan immediately after annexation (in ¥million)
Revenue in Korea (tax, revenue stamp)
Money given by Japan
Public bond / borrowed money
Supplementary money: money supplemented to the Office of Governor-General of Korea after annexation
Total aid from the Japanese Government to Korea during Japanese rule (in ¥million)
Money paid for and others
From 1907 to 1910
From 1911 to 1944
Public bond unredeemed
(Currently worth ¥60 trillion)
Japanese assets confiscated by Korea after the War
$6 billion (currently worth ¥16.93 trillion)
Private assets, excluding military-related assets
$5.3 billion (currently worth ¥15.1 trillion)
(Results of a survey conducted by the private assets management agency of the Allied Forces General Headquarters)
The annual revenue and expenditure budget of the Office of Governor-General of Korea from fiscal 1935 to 1939. The 30- year History of the Administration of the Office of Governor-General of Korea, published in 1941.
As of 1939, 25% of the revenue was given by Japan.
The railroads were constructed by Japan during the period of the Korean Empire
The above accounting tells about the period of Japanese rule. In point of fact, before Japan made Korea a protectorate, during the time of the Korean Empire, Japan made a mammoth financial investment and built railroads. See Source 24.
Source 24: Korean railroads completed with Japanese capital
Korean railroads were constructed using the Japanese people‟s precious tax monies.
During the period of the Korean Empire, Japan invested a total of ¥66.38 million (currently worth ¥6.6 trillion) and constructed railroads in the Korean Peninsula. Most of the passengers were Koreans, and tremendous advantages were brought to Korea.
With the completion of the railroad infrastructure, transportation of people, goods and money improved remarkably, and the foundation for the modernization of Korea was established. The tax revenue of the Korean Empire in 1905 merely totaled ¥7.84 million — this amount would have made it just about impossible for the Korean Empire to carry out such large-scale investments in completing its infrastructure all on its own.
The amount of Japan’s investment during this time reached ¥66.38 million, and with one yen at that time currently worth ¥100,000, the equivalent of ¥6.6-trillion in Japanese tax money was poured into Korea.
Korea claims that “Japan built railroads in its own behalf with a view to using them when it came time to invading the Continent.” However, most of the passengers were Koreans and a tremendous advantage was brought to Korea. To mention a few examples, it used to take five to six days to travel from Seoul to Inchon and back, but now it took only two or three hours. It had taken over a month to go from Seoul to Pusan or Sinuiju on foot, but now with railroads constructed, Koreans could make a roundtrip between the cities in merely several days, seated in train cars. By completing the railroad infrastructure, transportation of people, goods and money became remarkably improved, and the foundation for Korean modernization was established.
Great assets left behind by private enterprises
Not only the Japanese Government, but civilians also made huge investments in Korea.
In order to produce electricity, which is essential to industrial development, Supong Dam (material procurement and construction alone cost ¥270 million then, currently worth ¥5 trillion) and other large-scale dams were constructed one after another by private enterprises. Source 25 shows a comparison between the dams constructed in Korea and the dams in mainland Japan. Supong Dam, with a generating capacity of 700,000-kilowatts, was the largest in the world at that time, and comparing the top four dams in mainland Japan and in the Korean Peninsula, the difference is crystal-clear. The respective totals of the top four dams show that the Korean Peninsula boasted more than twice the electrical generating capacity of the Japanese mainland.
Besides dams, huge-scale projects were launched on a private basis, and many private firms invested and built factories in Korea. The total amount of Japanese private assets in the Korean Peninsula as of the end of World War II, was worth over ¥15 trillion (present-day value) according to the results of a survey conducted by the private assets management agency of the Allied Forces General Headquarters, as shown at the bottom of Source 22. All these assets were handed to Korea for nothing after the War. (References: Rekishi o Netsuzosuru Kankoku [Korea Fabricates History] written by Nakagawa Yatsuhiro, and Nikkan Heigo no Shinjitu [Truth about the Japanese-Korean Annexation] by Choi Ki-ko and others.)
So far, I have talked about the money Japan invested in Korea. Now, let me tell you about human capital.
Source 25: Comparison of hydroelectric plants before 1945 (top-four plants)
( in kilowatts)
Shinano River Hydroelectric Plant
Supong Hydroelectric Plant
Senju Hydroelectric Plant
Okuizumi Hydroelectric Plant
From Korea Fabricates History written by Nakagawa Yatsuhiro
Japan developed Korean “human capital”
–The spread of elementary education
Thanks to the efforts made by the Office of Governor-General of Korea to increase the level of Korean elementary education, the entrance rate for elementary school, which had been 10.7% at the time of the annexation of 1910, increased to 56.6% in 1943. This was fairly high rate, judging from world standards at that time.
–Foundation of an Imperial university
Seoul Imperial University was founded in 1926, before Osaka Imperial University and Nagoya Imperial University were established. (Source 26) A large number of Koreans, as a proportion to the entire population, entered the University.
–Foundation of various colleges
Seoul Medical College, Seoul Engineering College, Seoul Law School, Seoul Commercial College, Seoul Mining College, Pusan Fishing College, Suyuan Agriculture and Forestry College were established.
–Establishment of a system to foster the development of lawyers
The following description is seen in the Administration Almanac of the Office of Governor-General of Korea, 1941 Edition ( Source 27).
“Regulations regarding the Korean bar qualification examination shall be promulgated to widely select eligible native Korean lawyers and to thereby fulfill the responsibility of vindicating human rights.” Japanese from the mainland could take the examination, but most of those who passed the exam were Koreans.
The Office of Governor-General of Korea established a system by which Korean lawyers could vindicate the human rights of their fellow Koreans with equal judicial qualification as Japanese lawyers in the mainland.
Source 26: Numbers of graduates from Seoul Imperial University’s Department of Law and Literature and from the Department of Medicine.
Department of Law and Literature
Department of Medicine
A large number of Koreans studied at the top educational institutes. Consequently, one competent lawyer after another launched into law, the number of Korean governmental officials increased and in various industrial fields Koreans began to play important roles as well. What country on earth would have provided colonials with such high-leveled education? Educating colonials might have led to the “breeding” of potential resistance to the rulers themselves.
However, Japanese people, on the principal that “man is essentially good,” ardently nurtured human resources. These human resources made it possible for Korea to achieve the remarkable social and economic prosperity after the War. Far from depriving Korea of resources, Japan educated and produced human capital, the most valuable asset of any country.
Qualifying examination for lawyers. The Administration Almanac of the Office of Governor-General of Korea, 1941 Edition
Japanese-made Han helped Koreans to acquire intellectual resources
It is a well-known fact that Japan brought along all kinds of intellectual resources such as a modern judicial system and a scheme for industrial capitalism which were indispensable for the modernization of Korea. At the mention of intellectual resources, what is often overlooked is the role played by the “Chinese language made in Japan.” In the first place, Korea had no verbal medium with which to introduce modern knowledge. Seventy percent of the current Korean language consists of Chinese words. Nearly all the terminologies of modern economics and politics have been introduced from Japan. Words such as Shacho (company president), Fukushacho (vice-president), Senmu (executive director), Jomu (managing director), Bucho (manager), Kacho (chief), Kakaricho (assistant chief) are all Japanese. Such words as Kabushiki-gaisha (jointly-held stock corporation) and Goben-gaisha (joint venture) are Japanese words pronounced in Korean. Suiso (hydrogen) and Sanso (oxygen) are Japan-made Han words. See Source 28. These are examples of Japanese turned into modern Chinese. The Korean language has more Japanese than Chinese elements. And using these Japan-made Han words, Korean people have learned of modern civilization. That is, Japan gave Korea the language with which the Koreans could acquire intellectual resources.
Source 28: Japanese words turned into Chinese
Korea enjoyed prosperity after Japan’s annexation of Korea
Lastly, to conclude, I would like to look back on how Korea came to enjoy prosperity after the Japanese-Korean annexation.
Owing to improvement in hygiene and other measures, the Korean population doubled. By the spreading of education, elementary school entrance rate jumped from 10.7% to 56.6% in 1945. Higher education had also been spread, which resulted in the harvest of many great fruits in the form of statesmen, lawyers, entrepreneurs and engineers.
In the industrial section, agricultural production also doubled.
As a result of efforts made by many Japanese to improve Korean agricultural production, the rice crop doubled in 30 years and the crop per tan (one tan is nearly equivalent to one acre) also doubled in 27 years.
Industrial growth rate marked the highest in the world
See Source 29. The chart shows the year 1913 as 100. Germany and the United States had a growth rate of 50% in industrial production, while Korea marked a 500% growth rate. Even considering that the European countries and the United States had larger base figures, a growth rate surpassing that even of Japan is absolutely amazing.
Source 29: Growth rates of industrial production of various countries (1913 as 100%)
The average economic growth rate was 3.7%
At the time when the world was hit by the worst depression and negative growth was a global trend, a growth rate of 3.7% was certainly a remarkable figure.
Please look at the last page of the Sources Brochure. These are the photographs of Korea before Japanese rule and of modern Korea reborn 30 years later. At a glance, it is clear what efforts Japan made toward the modernization of Korea. (Photographed by Choe Sung-hui.) How could a person in his right mind claim that Japan deprived Korea of 80% of its GDP?
It was the Japanese people who were exploited
Japan invested prodigious sums of money in the modernization efforts to “develop Korea” and during that period ordinary Japanese citizens were burdened with heavy taxes. On top of that, as soon as the War was over, all Japanese assets, both government and private, were forcibly taken, and those Japanese who had worked so hard to realize Korean modernization were expelled, stripped down to the undershirt. Many lives were also lost. Quite contrary to colonial rule, the true situation then was that the Japanese were exploited in the Korean Peninsula.
Korea changes history as it pleases and imposes such a distorted history upon Japan. To deal with Korea, we Japanese must take the past seriously and thoroughly and protect our national honor by pointing out the true history based on valid primary sources that anyone can recognize. This is our present generation’s duty to the next generations of our children and grandchildren.
Moreover, I think it is also important to the Korean people for us Japanese to take the past seriously and point out the past as it was. The Koreans may recognize once again that they were an excellent nation which accomplished the “most remarkable modernization that the world had ever known” with the help of Japan, and that they were not cowardly, spiritless, eternal losers to the Japanese people. I want Koreans to remember how a large number of Koreans rushed to volunteer for the Japanese Army, fought together for the liberation of Asia and eventually drove the white’s out of their colonies in Asia.
I certainly believe that this is the only way to wipe out the anti-Japanese sentiment from the Koreans who adhere to the past and to build a truly friendly relationship between the two countries.
Still, if Korea is to insist that “Japan’s colonial rule prevented Korea from achieving its own modernization,” we would have no choice but to recommend that Korea should start from scratch its modernization all over again, first destroying the railroads, dams,
ports, factories and all the other things that had been built with Japanese investments and eliminating Japanese words from the Korean language.