Government should pay unpaid wages to former Japanese war captives in Siberia -- Akahata editorial, December 11 (excerpts)

Japanese who were held in forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union's Siberia following Japan's defeat in WWII have been demanding that the government pay unpaid wages for their forced labor in back pay.

The former Soviet Union hauled about 640,000 Japanese soldiers off to Siberia for compulsory labor. More than 60,000 people died of huger and from the cold as well as the harsh labor.

International laws prohibit inhumane detention and labor under coercion.

The 1949 Geneva Convention stipulates that a country in which a captive was held must issue his labor certificate and a country to which this captive belongs must pay unpaid wages for his forced labor abroad based on the certification.

The former Soviet Union, however, had not issued such certificates to the detainees. In 1993, then President Boris Yeltsin eventually offered an apology and issued labor certifications to about 34,000 former Japanese detainees.

The Japanese government had paid wages to those who were held by the U.S.-British forces in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, but to the Siberia captives it has still refused to make the payment.

German detainees who were held in the Soviet Union amounted to about 2.39 million. The government of Germany has paid them compensation, allowances, and parts of their living costs.

The Japanese Communist Party Dietmembers, together with a Japanese detainees' group, have been methodically working to solve this post-war issue in the Diet.

Most of the formerly detained soldiers are now over 80 years old. Suffering from war syndrome or the aftereffects of diseases or scars they had in the camps, many are now living under difficult conditions.

This is a humanitarian problem. The Japanese government should no longer neglect the matter but fulfill its responsibility to reach an early solution. (end)