Japan's Records on War Reparations
by Noguchi Hikaru

Japan has not dodged any responsibility for peaceful relations. The general public seems to be ignorant of the fact that Japan has faithfully met, negotiated, and fulfilled rigorous demands on all war-time reparations. Negotiations for post-war reparations started in 1951 and continued until 1977. In all, 54 treaties and agreements were concluded.

It is difficult to simplify the whole picture, but the following table will give you an idea:

 

Indemnity & grants
(in yen, at the time of payment)

Loans
(in yen, at the time of payment)

Micronesia
1950

18 billion donated

 

Myanmar
1955, 1963

72 billion indemnity
50.4 billion grant

18 billion
10.8 billion

Philippines
1956

198 billion indemnity

90 billion

Indonesia
1958

80.3 billion indemnity
(+63.7 billion credit write-off)

144 billion

Laos
1958

1 billion grant

 

Cambodia
1959

1.5 billion grant

 

Vietnam
1960

14 billion indemnity

6 billion

Korea
1965

108 billion

72 billion

Malaysia
1967

2.9 billion grant

 

Thailand

15 billion

 

Taiwan

58 billion

 

Singapore
1967

2.9 billion grant

 

Holland
1956

3.6 billion compensation

 

Switzerland
1955

1.1 billion compensation

 

Denmark
1955,1959

3 billion compensation
4.23 billion compensation

 

Sweden
1958

5 billion compensation

 

Britain & Holland used Japanese assets in neutral countries & funds in Thailand for compensation to POs (but not confiscated Japanese assets in their respective countries)
USA 50 million dollars Japanese assets in USA confiscated Occupation era food and medical aid (GAROIA) and (EROA) paid back, with interest: 580 million dollars 7-year occupation costs paid by Japan

Construction of such economic and social infrastructure in Asia would not have been possible without Japan's ODA. Why was there such a focusing of aid to Asia? It was shaped from an unspoken consensus and desire among the Japanese public, even though our legal obligations had been met, to re-build friendship with our Asian neighbors.

The negotiations and implementation of agreements were carried out with sincerity. Payments of reparations, which sometimes exceeded national welfare expenditure, started in 1955, lasted for 23 years, and ended in 1977. The amounts were huge for Japan, compared to the national economy of this period, but they were paid out in good faith. It should be emphasized that how all the money were spent were up to the discretion of the individual governments, beyond the dictates of Japan. Very often the governments chose not to use the funds to compensate individual losses, but instead to improve the general national economy or welfare.

The first country with which Japan concluded an agreement was Myanmar (Burma). A total of about 90 billion yen of indemnity and semi-indemnity were paid out to Myanmar, which was about 9 per cent of Japan's budget. When agreements were concluded with the Philippines, in 1956, Japan's national budget was a little over one trillion yen. Indemnity and semi-indemnity promised to the Philippines totaled 27% of that budget. Similarly, when Korea and Japan reached an agreement in 1965, Japan agreed to pay 180 billion yen (500 million dollars) indemnity and aid. Looking from Korea's point of view, this amount was 1.45 times Korea's national budget, and 3.8 times its foreign reserves. Most of this money was used by the Korean government for the nation's modernization. Korea says that it contributed to 20 per cent of its economic growth between 1966 and 1975, and 8 per cent annually to cover its trade deficit. From 1975, Korea also started compensations to individual citizens for personal losses during the war. However, on the whole, the Korean government chose to use the resources for national prosperity over compensation to private citizens.

Figures are from:

"Sengo Hoshoron wa Machigatte Iru" ( Mistaken Beliefs in Demands for Post-War Reparations)
By OKADA Kunihiro / Published by Japan Policy Institute (Tokyo)

Sankei Newspaper Sept.12th 1994 issue

Spa Magazines Date unknown, 1996 issue

"Kotonaru Higeki Nihon to Doitsu" (Dissimilar Tragedies: Japan & Germany)
By NISHIO Kanji (1994) / Published by Bungei Shunju (Tokyo)