Since Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945, relations between the two countries have been rocky. In 1965, the United States helped with the signing of a normalization treaty between Japan and South Korea; Japan believes that this resolved all reparation questions. However, the treaty was signed secretly and pushed through the legislature under South Korean dictator Park Chung-Hee. Additionally, Japan possessed much greater power than South Korea at the time, leaving Koreans with few options and raising questions from Koreans’ perspective of the treaty’s legitimacy. More importantly, the treaty did not properly address the issues of Japanese wartime military brothels and forced labor, nor did it clearly state “if the settlements were grant aid from Japan or reparations for colonization.” As such, victims were not compensated, and capital secured from Japan through the treaty was used for economic development.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution website on October 22, 2021. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Kim, Julie, "Mediation and Negotiation in South Korea and Japan" (2021). CJCR Blog. 14.