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Seoul analyzing Japanese record of forced laborers

All Headlines 21:32 March 02, 2008

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government is analyzing decades-old records of Koreans forced into labor during Japan's colonial rule that may help families of the laborers win hefty compensation from the Japanese government, the National Archives said Sunday.

The documents contain the names of some 110,000 Koreans forced to provide free labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonization of Korea, as well as the amount of their unpaid salaries, according to the National Archives.

The records were first handed over to the Foreign Ministry by the Japanese government.

"The (archive) center recently finished compiling a database of 110,000 forced laborers and their (unpaid) salaries based on the documents it got from the Foreign Ministry," an official at the archives said, asking not to be identified.

Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to provide labor to Japan in return for IOUs during the period, but their Japanese employers and the Japanese government have refused to pay their long overdue salaries.

The official at the National Archives noted the documents will not immediately lead to a settlement of the decades-old issue, but said they can at least provide "very strong evidence" that those Koreans did provide labor to Japanese employers and that their salaries are still owed to them.

As Tokyo showed no willingness to pay their overdue salaries for decades, Seoul enacted a piece of legislation last year that calls on the South Korean government to compensate the forced laborers or their families with 2,000 won (about US$2.10) for every 1 Japanese yen owed to them. One hundred Japanese yen is currently worth about 900 won.

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