A Korean government commission cleared 83 of 148 Koreans convicted by the Allies of war crimes during World War II.
The commission ruled that the Koreans, who were categorized as Class B and Class C war criminals, were in fact victims of Japanese imperialism.
Of the 148 Koreans convicted of war crimes, some 23 would eventually be executed.
Excluded from redemption were high-ranking officers and MPs suspected of voluntarily collaborating with the Japanese; Some 86 names were looked at overall; a judgment on the other three will follow investigations by local government bodies.
The commission ruled—now get this—that the Korean war criminals, who “unavoidably” became POW camp guards to avoid the Japanese draft (read: they volunteered as POW guards to avoid fighting at the front), were saddled by the Japanese with responsibility for the abuse of Allied POWs, and hence had to suffer the “double pain” of forced mobilization AND becoming a war criminal.
It gets better—the head of the commission said analysis of military prosecutor records, recently obtained from British state archives, on 15 Korean POW camp guards “confirmed” that they were convicted of war crimes “without clear evidence.”
See, the Japanese rightists are correct—the Tokyo Trials were unfair!
Some 37 percent of Allied prisoners in Japanese POW camps perished. Compare this with 4 percent for Western prisoners in Nazi German POW camps (the mortality rate for Soviet prisoners in Nazi camps, on the other hand, was 60 percent) and, for shits and giggles, the 43-percent mortality rate for U.S. POWs during the Korean War.
A sympathetic look at the Korean Class B and C war criminals can be found at this website:
Do you know…
That there were some Korean youths who were prosecuted
as Japanese soldier in war crimes tribunals,
And that because they are foreigners,
they have not received any apology
or compensation from the Japanese government?
Silly me, and here I was thinking that at least 23 of those war criminals were properly compensated… when they were executed.
UPDATE: Read that Japanese site linked above. Read stuff like this:
For the past forty years, the ex-Korean BC class war criminals have insisted that the Japanese government is responsible for the burden that they were forced to carry.
It ignored each time.
When they realized that there was no way to change the government, they decided to bring the case to the court.
Although they knew that they could not win, they could not let their suffering be forgotten.
Makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?
UPDATE 2: You can say that again:
The notion that some pissant ROK commission can pardon war criminals judged by proper authorities at the time a half century later is just another example of how Korea still isn’t ready for international prime time. The former Allied governments may not loudly second the complaints of veterans that are sure to come – I’ve sent this along to my uncles so that they can make a point of it – but it will not go unnoticed among opinion leaders and policy makers.
One can only hope. And by the way, Sperwer put it best—this is revolting. And on several levels, not the least of which is that for all the bitching the current administration does about Japan failing to take responsibility for its past, Seoul obviously isn’t in a rush to take responsibility for its.
It should also be noted this was a small piece that almost flew under the radar. If this were a Japanese government committee clearing Japanese war criminals of culpability, it would have been splashed on the front page of every newspaper in Korea.