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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on January 31st, 2012 at 3:40 am

Making Excuses for Korean War Criminals?

» by in: Japan

That is what this editorial in the Korea Times is doing in regards to Korean convicted as war criminals in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II:

Hiromura Gakurai was a prison guard at the Hintok work camp along the Thailand-Burma “death railway,” infamous for the extremely high human toll on the Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and local Asian slave laborers during World War II.

After the war, he was tried and sentenced to death by an Australian military court for inhumane treatment of POWs but commuted to 20 years’ imprisonment and released on parole in 1956.

Hiromura’s case may not stand out among over 5,700 war criminals in the Asia-Pacific region ― except he was a sharecropper’s son named Lee Hak-rae from Korea, then under Japanese colonial rule. And he is not alone: 148 Koreans and 173 Taiwanese were convicted as war criminals, of which 23 Koreans and 26 Taiwanese were executed.

Most Korean war criminals were lowly prison guards ranking below buck privates. On paper, they were “volunteers”; in practice, certain military conscription or industrial slave labor awaited as an alternative. Some 3,000 Koreans manned the Japanese POW camps in Southeast Asia.

In flagrant contravention of the official assurances to the Allies to treat their POWs in accordance with the Geneva Convention, the Japanese authorities subjected them to brutal labor and beating while depriving food, medicine and clothes.

The mortality rate for the Commonwealth and American POWs in Nazi Germany was less than 4 percent; in Imperial Japan, it was a whopping 27 percent. The outraged Allied officials made it a priority to bring those responsible to book.

Unfortunately, in the eye of the Allied prosecutors and judges, Lee was a subject of the Japanese emperor like any other with a Japanese name (forced upon him by the despised governor-general).  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

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