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The Repatriation of Japanese Colonialists from the Korean Peninsula after Defeat in the Second World War: The Issue of Keijō-Nihonjin-Sewakai Assets and Colonial Perspective

Park, Kyung-Min 1

1국민대학교 일본학연구소

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article deals with the fate of Japanese colonists in the Korean Peninsula following Japanese defeat in the Second World War. It focuses on perceptions and responses to the protection of colonial assets sort by Keijō-Nihonjin-Sewakai. Having accepted the Potsdam Declaration of August 1945, the Japanese Government-General of Korea adopted a set of measures aimed at helping Japanese settlers to remain in Korea and to protect their assets. Keijō-Nihonjin-Sewakai was an organization set up by colonists to help in this endeavor. The organization cooperated with the US Army Military Government in Korea(USAMGIK), and busied itself with these two aims of settlement and asset protection. However, from December 1945, USAMGIK policy hardened in the direction of asset confiscation and compulsory repatriation. The failure of Keijō-Nihonjin-Sewakai in its mission on the Korean Peninsula led to the rise of the ‘overseas asset compensation problem’ as an issue within Japanese society. When seen in such a light, the colonial perspective of the Japanese government and Japanese colonists in Korea becomes clear. The fact that US forces made a final decision on matters related to occupation policy only after they had occupied the southern half of the Korean Peninsula led to much confusion in the Japanese colonial administration and amongst would-be Japanese settlers. Above all else, it was ‘USAMGIK Ordinance No. 33’-which vested all Japanese government and privately-held property within the US zone of occupation in the US military government-that would be a major area of contention in future negotiations over diplomatic normalization between South Korea and Japan. The issue of claimed funds that would later prove so contentious in negotiations between South Korea and Japan was inextricably bound up with the problem of Japanese settler property post-defeat in World War Ⅱ. In this sense, the return of settlers and the Keijō-Nihonjin-Sewakai can be said to form part of the burden of history which has so constrained and stymied improvement in relations between South Korea and Japan.

Citation status

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