Korea under Japanese rule


Korea under Japanese rule
Korea under Japanese rule
(Chōsen (Korea), Empire of Japan)
日本統治時代の朝鮮(大日本帝国朝鮮)
일제 강점기 (日帝强占期)
Japanese colony

1910–1945
 

 

Flag of Korea under Japanese rule, 1910-1945 Seal of the Government-General of Korea
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem
Kimigayo
Korea as part of the Japanese empire, 1939
Capital Keijō (Japanese: 京城, Hangul: 경성; RR: Gyeongseong; MR: Kyŏngsŏng)
Language(s) Japanese (official)
Korean
Religion State Shinto (official; until 1945)
Government Constitutional monarchy
Government-General of Korea
 - 1910–1916 Terauchi Masatake
 - 1919–1927,1929–1931 Saito Makoto
 - 1927, 1931–1936 Kazushige Ugaki
 - 1936–1942 Jirō Minami
 - 1942–1944 Kuniaki Koiso
 - 1944–1945 Nobuyuki Abe
Historical era Japanese Empire
 - Annexation was signed 22 August 1910
 - Annexation by Japan 29 August 1910
 - March 1st Movement 1 March 1919
 - Battle of Qingshanli 11 September 1920
 - Sakuradamon Incident 9 January 1932
 - Shanghai bombing attack 29 April 1932
 - End of World War II 15 August 1945
 - Victory over Japan Day 2 September 1945
Currency Korean yen
History of Korea
Bulguksa temple, Gyeongju
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Korea under Japanese rule
Korean name
Hangul 일제 강점기 or 일제시대
Hanja 日帝强占期 or 日帝時代
Revised Romanization Ilje Gangjeomgi or Iljesidae
McCune-Reischauer Ilche Kangjŏmgi or Ilchesidae
Japanese name
Kanji 日本統治下の朝鮮
Hiragana にほんとうちかのちょうせん
Rōmaji Nihon Tōchika no Chōsen

Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion (29 August 1910 to 15 August 1945). Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II.

Korea was occupied and declared a Japanese protectorate in the 1905 Eulsa Treaty, and officially annexed in 1910 through the annexation treaty. Japan's involvement in the region began with the 1876 Treaty of Ganghwa during the Joseon Korea. The 1905 and 1910 treaties were eventually declared "null and void" by both Japan and South Korea in 1965.

In Korea, the period is usually described as "Japanese Imperial Period" (Hangul: 일제시대, Ilje sidae, Hanja: 日帝時代). Other terms include "Japanese forced occupation" (Hangeul: 일제강점기; Ilje gangjeomgi, Hanja: 日帝强占期) or "Wae (Japanese) administration" (Hangeul: 왜정, Wae jeong, Hanja: 倭政). In Japan, there is a term, "Chōsen (Joseon) of the Japanese-Governed Period" (日本統治時代の朝鮮 Nippon Tōchi-jidai no Chōsen?).

Contents

History

Background

In the late 19th and early 20th century, various Western countries actively competed for influence, trade, goods, and territory in East Asia; Japan sought to join these modern colonial powers. The newly modernised Meiji government of Japan turned to Korea, then in the sphere of influence of China's Qing Dynasty. The Japanese government initially sought to separate Korea from Qing and make Korea a Japanese satellite in order to further the country's security and national interests.[1]

In January 1876, following the Meiji Restoration, Japan employed gunboat diplomacy to pressure Korea to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa, an unequal treaty,[2] which opened three Korean ports to Japanese trade and granted extraterritorial rights to Japanese citizens. The rights granted to Japan under the treaty were similar to those granted western powers in Japan following the visit of Commodore Perry.[2]

Debate on punitive expedition against Korea

The debate referred to as Seikanron (Debate on punitive expedition against Korea) was a major political conflagration which occurred in Japan in 1873. Saigō Takamori and his supporters insisted that Japan should confront Korea due to Korea's refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Emperor Meiji as head of state of the Empire of Japan, and because of insulting treatment meted out to Japanese envoys attempting to establish trade and diplomatic relations. Those in favor also saw the issue as an ideal opportunity to find meaningful employment for the thousands of out-of-work samurai, who had lost most of their income and social standing in the new Meiji socioeconomic order. These samurai posed a threat to the government, and (as a samurai himself) Saigō sympathized with their situation. According to orthodoxy, "Saigo himself volunteered to go to Korea as a special envoy, inviting an assassination attempt that would provide justifications, if any were needed, for a punitive expedition."[3]

The arguments against an expedition to Korea were outlined in Okubo Toshimichi's "7 Point Document", dated October 1873, in which he argued that action against Korea was premature because Japan was in the stages of modernizing and an expedition would be far too costly for Japan to sustain. Okubo's views were supported by the anti-war faction, which mostly consisted of those returning from the Iwakura Mission in 1873. Iwakura Tomomi, the diplomat who had led the mission, persuaded the emperor to reverse the decision to send Saigo as an envoy to Korea, thus putting an end to the debate.

Treaty of Ganghwa, 1876

The Treaty of Ganghwa, also known in Japan as Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity (Japanese language: 日朝修好条規 Nitchō-shūkōjōki, Korean language: 강화도조약),Ganghwado joyak signed on February 27, 1876, was designed to open up Korea to Japanese trade. It ended Korea's status as a protectorate of China and opened three ports to Japanese trade.

Imo Incident, 1882

In 1882, followers of Heungseon Daewongun, the de facto ruler of Korea who had been forced into death by the supporters of Empress Myeongseong, staged a coup against the Empress and her allies.[4] Daewongun's forces, or "old military," killed Japanese officers in charge of training the new Korean Army and attacked the Japanese legation.[4] Japanese diplomats,[5] policemen,[6] students[7] and some Min clan members were also killed during the incident. Daewongun was restored to power, only to be forcibly taken to China by Chinese troops dispatched to Seoul to prevent further disorder.[4] In August 1882, the Korean government sent a mission to Japan and agreed to the stationing of Japanese troops to guard the legation in Seoul.[4]

Gapsin Coup, 1884

The struggle between Heungseon Daewongun's followers and those of Empress Myeongseong was further complicated by competition from a Korean independent faction and a conservative one. While the former sought Japan's support, the latter sought China's.[4] On December 4, 1884, a Korean independence group, assisted by the Japanese, attempted a coup and established a pro-Japanese government under the reigning king, dedicated to the independence of Korea from Chinese suzerainty.[4] However, this proved short-lived, as conservative Korean officials requested the help of Chinese forces stationed in Korea.[4] The coup was put down by Chinese troops, and a Korean mob killed both Japanese officers and Japanese residents in retaliation.[4] Some leaders of the independence faction, including Kim Okgyun, fled to Japan, while others were executed.[4]

Donghak Revolution, and First Sino-Japanese War, 1894

The outbreak of the Donghak Peasant Revolution in 1894 changed Japanese policy toward Korea. The Korean government asked for Chinese assistance in ending the revolt, and Japanese leaders decided upon military intervention to challenge China. When China sent troops into Korea, Japan responded by sending its own troops. Japan won the First Sino-Japanese War, and China signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. Among its many stipulations, the treaty recognized "the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea," thus ending Korea's tributary relationship with the Chinese Qing Dynasty, leading to the proclamation of fully independence of Joseon Korea in 1895.

At the same time, Japan suppressed the Donghak Revolution with Korean government forces, which had solidified Japanese military predominance than any other country in Korea.

Assassination of Empress Myeongseong, 1895

The Japanese minister to Korea, Miura Goro, orchestrated a plot against 43-year-old[8] Empress Myeongseong ("Queen Min"[9]), and on 8 October 1895, she was assassinated by Japanese agents.[10] In 2001, Russian reports on the assassination were found in the archives of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. The documents included the testimony of King Gojong, several witnesses of the assassination, and Karl Ivanovich Weber's report to Lobanov-Rostovsky, the Foreign Minister of Russia. Weber was the chargé d'affaires at the Russian legation in Seoul at that time.[10] According to a Russian eyewitness, Seredin-Sabatin (Середин-Cабатин), an employee of the Korean king, a group of Japanese agents entered the Gyeongbok palace,[11] killed Empress Myeongseong and desecrated her body in the north wing of the palace.[12]

When he heard the news, Heungseon Daewongun returned to the royal palace the same day.[10] On 11 February 1896, King Gojong and the crown prince moved from Gyeongbokgung palace to the Russian legation in Jeongdong, Seoul, from where they governed for about one year, an event known as the Korea royal refuge at the Russian legation.

Protests for democracy, 1896-1898

After royal refuge, some Korean activists established the Independence Club (독립협회, 獨立協會) in 1896. They claimed that Korea should negotiate with Western powers, particularly Russia, to counterbalance the growing influence of Japan and Russia. This club had contributed to the construction of Independence Gate, and they held regular meetings at the Jongno streets, demanding democratic reforms as Korea became a constitutional monarchy, and an end to Japanese and Russian influence in Korean affairs. However, it was dissolved on December 25, 1898 as Emperor Gojong officially announced a prohibition on unofficial congresses.

Proclamation of Korean Empire, 1897

In October 1897, King Gojong had decided to return to his other palace, Deoksugung, and proclaimed the founding of the Korean Empire. During this period, the Korean government had conducted a westernization policy. It was not a radical reform, however, and Korea steadily become subordinated to the larger powers of Japan and Russia.

On the road to annexation

Flag of the Japanese Resident General of Korea. (1905-1910)

The rivalry between Russia and Japan exploded into the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, which Japan won.[13] Under the Treaty of Portsmouth, signed in September 1905, Russia acknowledged Japan's "paramount political, military, and economic interest" in Korea.[13]

A separate agreement was signed in secret between the United States and Japan at this time, which subsequently aroused anti-American sentiment among Koreans decades later.[13] The Taft-Katsura Agreement between the U.S. and Japan, recognized U.S. interests in the Philippines and Japanese interests in Korea. Given the diplomatic conventions of the times, however, the agreement was a much weaker endorsement of the Japanese presence in Korea than either the Russo-Japanese peace treaty or a separate Anglo-Japanese accord.[13]

Two months later, Korea was obliged to become a Japanese protectorate by the Eulsa Treaty.[13] A large number of Koreans organized themselves in education and reform movements, but by then Japanese dominance in Korea was a reality.[13]

In June 1907, the Second Peace Conference was held in The Hague. Emperor Gojong secretly sent three representatives to bring the problems of Korea to the world's attention. The three envoys were refused access to the public debates by the international delegates who questioned the legality of the protectorate convention. Out of despair, one of the Korean representatives, Yi Jun, committed suicide at The Hague.[14]

In response, the Japanese government took stronger measures. On 19th July, Emperor Gojong was forced to relinquish his imperial authority and appoint the Crown Prince as regent. Japanese officials used this concession to force the accession of the new Emperor Sunjong following abdication, which was never agreed to by Gojong. Neither Gojong or Sunjong was present at the 'accession' ceremony. Sunjong was to be the last ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, founded in 1392.[15]

Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, 1910

General power of attorney to Lee Wan-Yong signed and sealed by the last emperor, Sunjong on August 22, 1910 (융희4년, 隆熙4年).

In May 1910, the Minister of War of Japan, Terauchi Masatake, was given a mission to finalize Japanese control over Korea after the previous treaties (the Japan-Korea Protocol of 1904 and the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty of 1907) had made Korea a protectorate of Japan and had established Japanese hegemony over Korean domestic politics. On 22 August 1910, Japan effectively annexed Korea with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty signed by Lee Wan-Yong, Prime Minister of Korea, and Terauchi Masatake, who became the first Japanese Governor-General of Korea. Later research has invalidated most of these treaties. For example,

The scholars succeeded in revealing that Japan coerced Korea to sign two treaties that led to the colonization of the latter, pointing out that they were illegal. By using threats and intimidation, the island nation concluded the Japan-Korea Protocol in 1905 and the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty in 1910.[16]

The treaty became effective the same day and was published one week later. The treaty stipulated:

  • Article 1: His Majesty the Emperor of Korea concedes completely and definitely his entire sovereignty over the whole Korean territory to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
  • Article 2: His Majesty the Emperor of Japan accepts the concession stated in the previous article and consents to the annexation of Korea to the Empire of Japan.

Both the protectorate and the annexation treaties were declared void in the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea because both treaties were obtained under threat of force, and that the Korean Emperor, whose royal assent was required to validate and finalize any legislation or diplomatic agreement under Korean law of the period, refused to sign the document.[17][18]

During World War II

National Mobilization Law

Kuniaki Koiso, Japanese Governor-General of Korea, implemented a draft of Koreans for wartime labor.

From 1939, labor shortages as a result of conscription of Japanese males for the military efforts of World War II led to organized official recruitment of Koreans to work in mainland Japan, initially through civilian agents, and later directly, often involving elements of coercion. As the labor shortage increased, by 1942, the Japanese authorities extended the provisions of the National Mobilization Law to include the conscription of Korean workers for factories and mines on the Korean peninsula, Manchukuo, and the involuntary relocation of workers to Japan itself as needed.

Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan (including Karafuto Prefecture, present-day Sakhalin, now part of Russia) for civilian labor. Those who were brought to Japan were often forced to work under appalling and dangerous conditions.[19] About 60,000 are estimated to have died between 1939 and 1945 from harsh treatment, inhumane working conditions and Allied bombings.[20] The total deaths of Korean forced laborers in Korea and Manchuria is estimated to be between 270,000 and 810,000.[20] The 43,000 ethnic Koreans in Karafuto, which had been occupied by the Soviet Union just prior to Japan's surrender, were refused repatriation to either mainland Japan or the Korean peninsula, and were thus trapped in Sakhalin, stateless; they became the ancestors of the Sakhalin Koreans.[21]

Most Korean atomic-bomb victims in Japan were drafted for work at military industrial factories in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[22] In the name of humanitarian assistance, Japan paid South Korea 4 billion yen and built a welfare center for those suffering from the effects of the atomic bomb.[23]

In 1938, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Koreans were living in Japan as immigrants. The combination of immigrants and forced laborers during World War II brought the total to over 2 million by the end of the war, according to estimates by the American occupation authorities. In 1946, some 1,340,000 ethnic Koreans were repatriated to Korea, with 650,000 choosing to remain in Japan,[24] where they now form the Zainichi Korean community. A 1982 survey by the Korean Youth Association showed that conscripted laborers accounts for 13 percent of first-generation Zainichi Koreans.

Order to name changes

Attempts were made to better segregate individuals of Korean and Japanese ancestry. In 1911 a proclamation, "Matter Concerning the Changing of Korean Names" (朝鮮人ノ姓名改称ニ関スル件) was issued barring ethnic Koreans from taking Japanese names and to retroactively revert the names of Koreans that had already registered under Japanese names back to the original Korean ones.[25][25] By 1939, the focus had shifted towards colonial assimilation, and Imperial Decree 19 on Korean Civil Affairs (조선민사령; "勅令第19号「朝鮮民事改正令」")[26] went into effect, whereby ethnic Koreans were permitted to surrender their Korean family name and adopt Japanese surnames. Although officially voluntary, many argue official compulsion and harassment existed against individuals, especially Korean government employees, who refused to create a new Japanese-style name.[27] There is disagreement as to whether this was the result of individual practices by low-level officials, the policy of some regional government organizations, or the overall intention of the colonial government. Others argue that Koreans felt compelled to adopt Japanese family names in order to avoid discrimination by Japanese. A country study conducted by the Library of Congress states that "the Korean culture was quashed, and Koreans were required to speak Japanese and take Japanese names."[28][29][30] This name change policy, called Changssi-gaemyeong (창씨개명; 創氏改名), was part of Japan's assimilation efforts.[31][32] The policy was extremely unpopular, with only some 9.6 percent of Koreans changing their last names to a Japanese one during the colonial occupation.[33] A number of prominent ethnic Koreans working for the Japanese government, including General Hong Sa-ik, insisted on keeping their Korean names. Another ethnic Korean, Park Chun-Geum (박춘금, 朴春琴), was elected as a member of the Lower House from the Tokyo Third District in the general election in 1932 and served two terms without changing his Korean name, but has been registered as chinilpa by the current Republic of Korea government.

After the liberation of Korea from Japanese rule, the "Name Restoration Order" was issued on 23 October 1946 by the U.S. Army Military Government in Korea south of the 38th parallel, enabling Koreans to restore their names if they wished. Many Zainichi Koreans chose to retain their Japanese names, either to avoid discrimination, or later, to meet the requirements for naturalization as Japanese citizens.[34]

Independence and Division of Korea

Following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the impending overrun of the Korean peninsula by Russian forces, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces on 15 August 1945, ending 35 years of Japanese occupation.

American forces under General John R. Hodge arrived at the southern part of Korean peninsula on September 8 1945, while the Soviet Army and some Korean Communists had stationed themselves in the northern part of the Korean peninsula. U.S. Colonel Dean Rusk proposed splitting Korea at the 38th parallel to Chischakov, Soviet military administrator of northern Korea, at an emergency meeting to determine postwar spheres of influence, which led to the Division of Korea.

Korean independence movement

Photo memorialising the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, 1919

Upon Emperor Gojong's death, anti-Japanese rallies took place nationwide, most notably the March 1st Movement of 1919. A declaration of independence was read in Seoul. It is estimated that 2 million people took part in these rallies. The Japanese violently suppressed the protests: According to Korean records, 46,948 were arrested, 7,509 killed and 15,961 wounded; according to Japanese figures, 8,437 were arrested, 553 killed and 1,409 wounded.[35] About 7,000 people were killed by Japanese police and soldiers during the 12 months of demonstrations.[36]

After suppression of the uprising, some aspects of Japanese rule considered most objectionable to Koreans were removed. The military police were replaced by a civilian force, and freedom of the press was permitted to a limited extent. Two of the three major Korean daily newspapers, the Dong-a Ilbo and the Chosun Ilbo, were established in 1920.

Objection to Japanese rule over Korea continued, and the March 1st Movement was a catalyst for the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea by Korean émigrés in Shanghai on 13 April 1919. The modern South Korean government considers this Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea the de jure representation of the Korean people throughout the period of Japanese rule.

The Japanese occupation of Korea after annexation was largely uncontested militarily by the smaller, poorly-armed, and poorly-trained Korean army. Many former soldiers and other volunteers left the Korean peninsula for Manchuria and Primorsky Krai in Russia. Koreans in Manchuria formed resistance groups known as Dongnipgun (Liberation Army), which traveled across the Korean-Chinese border, using guerrilla warfare tactics against Japanese forces. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1932 and subsequent Pacification of Manchukuo deprived many of these groups of their bases of operation and supplies. Many were forced to either flee to China, or to join the Communist-backed forces in eastern Russia. One of the guerrilla groups was lead by the future leader of communist North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, in Japanese controlled Manchuria. Kim Il-Sung's time as a guerrilla leader was formative upon his political ideology once he came to power.[37]

Within Korea itself, anti-Japanese rallies continued on occasion. Most notably, the Gwangju Students Anti-Japanese Movement on 3 November 1929 led to the strengthening of Japanese military rule in 1931, after which freedom of the press and freedom of expression were curbed. Many witnesses, including Catholic priests, reported that Japanese authorities dealt with insurgency severely. When villagers were suspected of hiding rebels, entire village populations are said to have been herded into public buildings (especially churches) and massacred when the buildings were set on fire.[38] In the village of Jeam-ni, Hwaseong, for example, a group of 29 people were gathered inside a church which was then set afire.[39] Such events deepened the hostility of many Korean civilians towards the Japanese government.

On 9 December 1941, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, under the presidency of Kim Gu, declared war on Japan and Nazi Germany. The Korean Provisional Government banded together various Korean resistance guerilla groups such as the Korean Liberation Army, which was involved in combat on behalf of the Allies in various campaigns in China and parts of South East Asia. Tens of thousands of Koreans volunteered for the National Revolutionary Army and the People's Liberation Army. The communist-backed Korean Volunteer Army (KVA, 조선의용군, 朝鮮義勇軍) was established in Yenan, China, outside of the Provisional Government's control, from a core of 1,000 deserters from the Imperial Japanese Army. After the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation, the KVA entered Manchuria, where it recruited from the ethnic Korean population and eventually became the Korean People's Army of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Economy and exploitation

Opening of railway from Seoul to Busan.

The Korean economy went through significant changes during the Japanese occupation. There is no academic consensus on the influence of Japanese rule on the development of Korea. Some scholars argue that economic developments occurred during the period, while others claim that Japanese rule worsened the economic condition of Korea.[40]

There were some modernization efforts by the late 19th century, Seoul became the first city in East Asia to have electricity, trolley cars, water, telephone, and telegraph systems all at the same time,[41] but Korea remained a largely backward agricultural economy at the turn of the century.[42] "Japan's initial colonial policy was to increase agricultural production in Korea to meet Japan's growing need for rice. Japan also began to build large-scale industries in Korea in the 1930s as part of the empire-wide program of economic self-sufficiency and war preparation."[43]

According to scholar Donald S. Macdonald, "for centuries most Koreans lived as subsistence farmers of rice and other grains and satisfied most of their basic needs through their own labor or through barter. The manufactures of traditional Korea--principally cloth, cooking and eating utensils, furniture, jewelry, and paper--were produced by artisans in a few population centers."[42]

During the early period of Japanese rule, the Japanese government attempted to completely integrate the Korean economy with Japan, and thus introduced many modern economic and social institutions and invested heavily in infrastructure, including schools, railroads and utilities. Most of these physical facilities remained in Korea after the Liberation. The Japanese government played an even more active role in developing Korea than it had played in developing the Japanese economy in the late nineteenth century. Many programs drafted in Korea in the 1920s and 1930s originated in policies drafted in Japan during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The Japanese government helped to mobilize resources for development and provided entrepreneurial leadership for these new enterprises. Colonial economic growth was initiated through powerful government efforts to expand the economic infrastructure, to increase investment in human capital through health and education and to raise productivity.[42]

However, under Japanese rule, many Korean resources were only utilized for Japan.[44] Economist Suh Sang-Chul points out that the nature of industrialization during the period was as an "imposed enclave," so the impact of colonialism was trivial. Another scholar, Song Byung-Nak, states that the economic condition of average Koreans was aggravated during the period despite the economic growth. Most Koreans at the time could access only a primary school education under restriction by the Japanese, and this prevented the growth of an indigenous entrepreneurial class. A 1939 statistic shows that among the total capital recorded by factories, about 94 percent was Japanese-owned. While Koreans owned about 61 percent of small-scale firms that had 5 to 49 employees, about 92 percent of large-scale enterprises with more than 200 employees were Japanese-owned.[40][45][46]

Virtually all industries were owned either by Japan-based corporations or by Japanese corporations in Korea. As of 1942, indigenous capital constituted only 1.5 percent of the total capital invested in Korean industries. Korean entrepreneurs were charged interest rates 25 percent higher than their Japanese counterparts, so it was difficult for large Korean enterprises to emerge. More and more farmland was taken over by the Japanese, and an increasing proportion of Korean farmers either became sharecroppers or migrated to Japan or Manchuria as laborers. As greater quantities of Korean rice were exported to Japan, per capita consumption of rice among the Koreans declined; between 1932 and 1936, per capita consumption of rice declined to half the level consumed between 1912 and 1916. Although the government imported coarse grains from Manchuria to augment the Korean food supply, per capita consumption of food grains in 1944 was 35 percent below that of 1912 to 1916.[43]

The Japanese government created a system of colonial mercantilism, requiring construction of significant transportation infrastructure on the Korean Peninsula for the purpose of extracting and exploiting resources such as raw materials (timber), foodstuff (mostly rice and fish), and mineral resources (coal and iron ore). The Japanese developed port facilities and an extensive railway system which included a main trunk railway from the southern port city of Pusan through the capital of Seoul and north to the Chinese border. This infrastructure was intended not only to facilitate a colonial mercantilist economy, but was also viewed as a strategic necessity for the Japanese military to control Korea and to move large numbers of troops and materials to the Chinese border at short notice.

From the late 1920s and into the 1930s, particularly during the tenure of Japanese Governor-General Kazushige Ugaki, concentrated efforts were made to build up the industrial base in Korea. This was especially true in the areas of heavy industry, such as chemical plants and steel mills, and munitions production. The Japanese military felt it would be beneficial to have production closer to the source of raw materials and closer to potential front lines for a future war with China.[47]

By the early 1930s, Japanese investment was curtailed by the Great Depression, competition for investment opportunities from the potentially more lucrative Manchukuo and by Japan's own limited economic capacity. As Imperial Japan began feeling the strains of World War II, Japan carried out a colonial exploitation policy in Korea.[48]

Japanese migration and land confiscation

Terauchi Masatake, the first Japanese Governor-General of Korea, reestablished the preexisting Korean land-ownership system.

Prior to the annexation of Korea, from around the time of the First Sino-Japanese War, Japanese merchants began settling in towns and cities in Korea seeking economic opportunity. By 1910, the number of Japanese settlers in Korea reached over 170,000, creating the largest overseas Japanese community in the world at the time.

Many Japanese settlers were interested in acquiring agricultural land in Korea even before Japanese land ownership was officially legalized in 1906. Governor-General Terauchi Masatake facilitated settlement through land reform, which proved extremely unpopular with most of the Korean population. The Korean land ownership system was a complex system of absentee landlords, partial owner-tenants and cultivators with traditional (but no legal proof of) ownership. Terauchi's new Land Survey Bureau conducted cadastral surveys that reestablished ownership by basis of written proof (deeds, titles, and similar documents). Ownership was denied to those who could not provide such written documentation; these turned out to be mostly lower-class and partial owners who had only traditional verbal cultivator rights. Although the plan succeeded in modernizing the land ownership and taxation structures, it added tremendously to the bitterness and hostility of the time by enabling a huge amount of Korean land to be seized by the government and sold at subsidized costs to Japanese willing to settle in Korea as part of a larger effort at colonization.[49]

Japanese landlords included both individuals and corporations such as the Oriental Development Company. Many former Korean landowners as well as agricultural workers became tenant farmers, having lost their entitlements almost overnight.

Headquarters of the Oriental Development Company in Seoul

It is estimated that by 1910 perhaps 7 to 8 percent of all arable land was under Japanese control. This ratio increased steadily; during the years 1916, 1920, and 1932, the ratio of Japanese land ownership increased from 36.8 to 39.8 to 52.7 percent. Conversely, the ratio of Korean ownership decreased from 63.2 to 60.2 to 47.3 percent. The level of tenancy was similar to that of farmers in Japan itself; however, in Korea, the landowners were mostly Japanese, while the tenants were all Koreans. As was often the case in Japan itself, tenants were forced to pay over half their crop as rent, forcing many to send wives and daughters into factories or prostitution so they could pay taxes.[49]

Lee Yong Hoon, a controversial professor at Seoul National University and a leading critic of the "New Right" Foundation (뉴라이트재단), which is often called the "New Chinilpa,"[50][51] states that less than 10% of arable land actually came under Japanese control and rice was normally traded, not robbed. He also insists that Koreans' knowledge about the era under Japanese rule is mostly made up by later educators.[52][53][54] Many of Lee's arguments, however, have been contested.[55]

Korea suffered from famine due to its economy's over taxation and lagged behind Japan in the rise of agricultural cooperatives and advances in cash crop production and mechanized agriculture.[citation needed]

By the 1930s, the growth of the urban economy and the exodus of farmers to the cities had gradually weakened the hold of the landlords. With the growth of the wartime economy, the government recognized landlordism as an impediment to increased agricultural productivity, and took steps to increase control over the rural sector through the formation of the Central Agricultural Association, a compulsory organization under the wartime command economy.[citation needed]


Cultural genocide

The Japanese colonization of Korea has been mentioned as a case in point of "cultural genocide" by a graduate student of the Comparative Genocide Studies group.[56]

Focus was heavily and intentionally placed upon the psychological and cultural element in Japan's colonial policy, and the unification strategies adopted in the fields of culture and education were designed to eradicate the individual ethnicity of the Korean race.[56]

Assimilation of the Korean royalty

Following the forced dissolution of the Korean Empire, the Korean royalty was incorporated into the Imperial Household of Japan. The Emperor of Japan, Viscount Terauchi Masatake, Resident-General, and His Majesty the Emperor of Korea Yi Wan-Yong, Prime Minister, who upon mutual conference and deliberation had agreed to the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty,[17] made an effort to intermarry the royalty of the two houses in an attempt to validate the annexation of Korea.

Yi Eun, then the Imperial Crown Prince of Korea, married Masako of Nashimotonomiya. Pro-Japanese Koreans (or Chinilpa) who supported or helped the annexation were also given peerage titles under the Japanese kazoku system. Lee Wan-Yong, the last prime minister of the Korean Empire, was given the title of hakushaku (Count) (which was later raised to koshaku, or Duke).

In total, 76 Koreans were given peerage titles. After Korean independence, all titles were invalidated, and recipients formally charged with treason.

Censorship on Korean newspapers

Initially, the Japanese sponsored several Korean language newspapers to counter the strong anti-Japanese message of the chief Korean publication Hwangseong Sinmun (The Imperial news, 1898–1910). These papers included The Chosun Ilbo (1904).[57]

The Korean language newspaper Maeil Sinbo (매일신보; 每日新報) continued its publication due to disposal by Japanese Government-General.[57][58]

Prohibitions on Korean language and alphabet

Resentment of the harsh treatment of Koreans eventually led to a revival of Korean nationalism, including in-depth research projects into Hangul (the Korean alphabet), which resulted in the standardization of the Korean writing system by scholars such as Lee Hui-Seung (이희승) and Choe Hyeon-bae (최현배) in the 1930s, as well as underground publications of books about historical Korean figures.

Historians such as Shin Chae-ho were active in trying to present a Koreanized version of ancient history using textual material.

Distortion of Korean history and Relocation of cultural artifacts

Many ancient Korean texts that were discovered mentioning Korean military and cultural exploits or Japan's behavior as the Wokou were deleted methodically; in general, the awareness of Korean history among Koreans declined during this period; the new generation grew up with little or no awareness of their own heritage. Japan altered the history to rationalize the occupation of Korea to the international community by depicting the Koreans as backward and in need of modernization. In order to justify their need to take over their neighbors, "the Japanese convinced themselves that, despite being of the same race," says Michael Breen, "the Koreans were actually hardly human."[59] This was possible in part because Korea had sealed itself off from outside contact for centuries.

In 1925, Japanese government established the Korean History Compilation Committee (조선사편수회, 朝鮮史編修會), and it was administered by the Governor General of Korea and engaged in collecting of Korean historical materials and compilation of Korean history".[60] The Committee distorted the ancient Korean history to validate Japanese colonization of Joseon.[61] The ancient Korean history was distorted by the Committee and as follows; i) Korean history was only part of Korean peninsula history (Korean history had never rule over Manchuria),[citation needed][61] ii) North Korean peninsula was the colony of China by Chinese Commanderies,[61] iii) South Korean peninsula was the colony of Japan by Mimana Nihonfu (任那日本府).[61] In order to demonstrate their theories, they moved the a stone monument (棕蟬縣神祠碑), which was originally located at Liaodong, into Pyongyang, and then distorted the location of Chinese commanderies such that they existed in Pyongyang.[61]

The Japanese Government conducted excavations of archeological sites and preserved artifacts found there.[62] Since many of the Japanese ideas were not supported by archeology, Japan decided to demonstrate their theories by moving a stone monument (棕蟬縣神祠碑), which was originally located at Liaodong, into Pyongyang,[63] and then distorted the location of Chinese commanderies such that they existed in Pyongyang. All these actions are viewed as an effort by Japan to destroy the ancient culture of Korea.

The Japanese rule of Korea also resulted in the relocation of many cultural artifacts to Japan. The issue over where these articles should be located began during the U.S. occupation of Japan.[64] It is known that at least 100,000 Korean artifacts were looted and stolen during Japanese rule.[64] In 2002, the controversy was reignited when two Koreans stole two Korean artifacts from a west Japanese temple.[65]

The Chosun Ilbo (Korean Daily News) reports that valuable Korean artifacts can still be found in Japanese museums and private collections. According to an investigation by the South Korea government, there are 75,311 cultural artifacts that were taken from Korea. Japan has 34,369 and the United States has 17,803.[66] Korea frequently demands the return of these artifacts, but the United States and Japan do not comply.[67]

On August 10, 2010, Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan promised to return Korean artifacts which were seized during 1910-1945, while expressing "deep remorse".[68]

Education in Japanese rule

Following the annexation of Korea, the Japanese administration introduced universal education[citation needed] patterned after the Japanese school system, with a pyramidal hierarchy of elementary, middle and high schools, culminating at the Keijō Imperial University in Seoul. As in Japan itself, education was viewed primarily as an instrument of "the Formation of the Imperial Citizen" (황민화; 皇民化) with a heavy emphasis on moral and political indoctrination.

The Japanese colonial government provided educational material for Korean history, culture and language to some degree, such as a textbook of Hangul[69] and grammar to mix Hangul with Chinese characters (in the version designed by Kakugorō Inoue).[70] However, it was treated as a low standard than Japan's that, and also was completely abolished after 1938.[citation needed]

Classes focused mostly on teaching the history of the Japanese Empire as well as glorification of the Imperial House of Japan. The history of Korea was not part of the curriculum. As in Japan itself, students were made to worship at the school's Shintō shrine regardless of their religious beliefs, bow before portraits of the Emperor, and copy the Imperial Rescript on Education. As the Japanese administrative policy shifted more strongly towards assimilation from the 1930s (同化政策; dōka seisaku), all classes were taught in Japanese with Korean language becoming an elective. During colonial times, elementary schools were known as "Citizen Schools" (국민학교; 國民學校; gungmin hakgyo) as in Japan, as a means of forming proper "Imperial Citizens" (皇國民; Hwanggungmin) from early childhood. Elementary schools in South Korea today are known by the name chodeung hakgyo (초등학교; 初等學校) (literally "Elementary School") as the term gungmin hakgyo has recently become a politically incorrect term.

Although the Japanese education system in Korea was detrimental towards the colony's cultural identity, it helped lay the foundation of future economic growth by improving Korea's human capital. By 1940, 38 percent of school-age Koreans were attending elementary school. Children of elite families were able to advance to higher education, while others were able to attend technical schools, allowing for "the emergence of a small but important class of well-educated white collar and technical workers... who possessed skills required to run a modern industrial economy." The Japanese education system ultimately produced hundreds of thousands of educated South Koreans who later became "the core of the postwar political and economic elite." [71]

Other means

Other means of cultural suppression included altering public monuments, including several well-known temples, palaces, scripts, memorials, and statues. Songs and poems, such as "Poem of celebrating for Kamikaze" written by Seo Jeong-ju, were re-written to adore the Japanese Empire. Carved monuments underwent alterations to the Chinese characters to delete or change part of their meaning.

Japanese colonial authorities took many photographs of scenes of abject poverty in Korea, but did not take a single photograph of the main palace at Gyeongbokgung.[72]

The primary building of Gyeongbokgung was demolished and the Japanese General Government Building was built in its exact location. The Japanese colonial authorities destroyed 85 percent of all the buildings in Gyeongbokgung.[73] Sungnyemun, a virtual symbol of Korea, was altered by the addition of large, Shinto-style golden horns near the roofs (later removed by the South Korean government after independence).

Koreans in the Japanese military

Korean military participation until 1943[74]
Year Applicants # accepted
1938 2,946 406
1939 12,348 613
1940 84,443 3,060
1941 144,743 3,208
1942 254,273 4,077
1943 303,294 6,300

Starting in 1938, Koreans both enlisted and were conscripted into the Japanese military and the first "Korean Voluntary" Unit was formed. Among notable Korean personnel in the Imperial Army was Crown Prince Euimin, who attained the rank of lieutenant general. Some later gained administrative posts in the government of South Korea; well-known examples include Park Chung Hee, who became president of South Korea, Chung Il-Kwon (정일권,丁一權), prime minister from 1964 to 1970, and Paik Sun-Yup, South Korea's youngest general, famous for his defense of the Pusan Perimeter during the Korean War. The first ten of the Chiefs of Army Staff of South Korea graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and none from the Korean Liberation Army.[75][76]

Recruitment began as early as 1938, when the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria began accepting pro-Japanese Korean volunteers into the army of Manchukuo, and formed the Gando Special Force. Koreans in this unit specialized in counter-insurgency operations against communist guerillas in the region of Jiandao. The size of the unit grew considerably at an annual rate of 700 men, and included such notable Koreans as General Paik Sun-Yup, who served in the Korean War. Historian Philip Jowett noted that during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the Gando Special Force "earned a reputation for brutality and was reported to have laid waste to large areas which came under its rule."[77]

During World War II, American soldiers frequently encountered Korean soldiers within the ranks of the Japanese army. Most notably was in the Battle of Tarawa, which was considered during that time to be one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. military history. A fifth of the Japanese garrison during this battle consisted of Korean laborers who were trained in combat roles. Like their Japanese counterparts, they put up a ferocious defense and fought to the death.[78][79]

Starting in 1944, Japan started conscription of Koreans into the armed forces. All Korean males were drafted to either join the Imperial Japanese Army, as of April 1944, or work in the military industrial sector, as of September 1944. Before 1944, 18,000 Koreans passed the examination for induction into the army. Koreans provided workers to mines and construction sites around Japan. The number of conscripted Koreans reached its peak in 1944 in preparation for war.[80] From 1944, about 200,000 Korean males were inducted into the army.

After the war, 148 Koreans were convicted of Class B and C war crimes, 23 of whom were sentenced to death (compared to 920 Japanese who were sentenced to death), including Korean prison guards who were particularly notorious for their brutality during the war. The figure is relatively high considering that ethnic Koreans made up a very small percentage of the Japanese military. Justice Bert Röling, who represented the Netherlands at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, noted that "many of the commanders and guards in POW camps were Koreans - the Japanese apparently did not trust them as soldiers - and it is said that they were sometimes far more cruel than the Japanese."[81] In his memoirs, Colonel Eugene C. Jacobs wrote that during the Bataan Death March, "the Korean guards were the most abusive. The Japs didn't trust them in battle, so used them as service troops; the Koreans were anxious to get blood on their bayonets; and then they thought they were veterans."[82][83] Korean guards were sent to the remote jungles of Burma, where Lt. Col. William A. (Bill) Henderson wrote from his own experience that some of the guards overlooking the construction of the Burma Railway "were moronic and at times almost bestial in their treatment of prisoners. This applied particularly to Korean private soldiers, conscripted only for guard and sentry duties in many parts of the Japanese empire. Regrettably, they were appointed as guards for the prisoners throughout the camps of Burma and Siam."[84] The highest-ranking Korean to be prosecuted after the war was Lieutenant General Hong Sa-Ik, who was in command of all the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in the Philippines.

In 2002, South Korea started an investigation of Japanese collaborators. Part of the investigation was completed in 2006 and a list of names of individuals who profited from exploitation of fellow Koreans were posted.[85] The collaborators not only benefited from exploiting their countrymen, but the children of these collaborators benefited further by acquiring higher education with the exploitation money they had amassed.[86]

The "Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Imperialism Republic of Korea" investigated the received reports for damage from 86 people among the 148 Koreans who were accused of being the level B and C war criminals while serving as prison guards for the Japanese military during World War II. The commission, which was organized by the South Korean government, announced that they acknowledge 83 people among them as victims. The commission said that although the people reluctantly served as guards to avoid the draft, they took responsibility for mistreatment by the Japanese against prisoners of war. Lee Se-il, leader of the investigation, said that examination of the military prosecution reports for 15 Korean prison guards, obtained from The National Archives of the United Kingdom, confirmed that they were convicted without explicit evidence.[87]

Japanese brutalities and Korean damages

During Japanese colonial period, many Koreans became victims of Japanese brutalities. Korean villagers hiding resistance fighters were dealt with harshly, often with summary execution, rape, forced labour, and looting.[88][89][90][91][92][93]

Jeam-ri massacre

Since on March 1, 1919, Anti-Japanese demonstration continued to spread, and as the Japanese national and military police could not contain the crowds, the army and even the navy were also called in. There were several reports of atrocities. In one notable instance, Japanese police in the village of Jeam-ri, Hwaseong herded everyone into a church, locked it, and burned it to the ground. They even shot through the burning windows of the church to ensure that no one made it out alive. Many of participants of the March 1st Movement were often subjected to torture and execution.

Forced laborers and Comfort Women

During World War II, many Korean men were pushed into forced labor, and the toll of forced laborers from Korea in mainland Japan comes to 450,000.[94] Korean women also became victims of the Japanese called comfort women, who served in Japanese military brothels. Historians estimate the number of comfort women between 10,000 and 200,000, a figure which also includes Japanese women.[95][96] According to testimonies, cases included that of Japanese officials and local collaborators kidnapping or recruiting poor rural women from Korea and other nations for sexual slavery under guise of offering factory employment. There is evidence the Japanese government intentionally destroyed official records regarding Comfort Women.[97][98] Japanese inventory logs and employee sheets on the battlefield show some documentation of government-sponsored sexual slavery. In one instance, names of known Comfort Women were traced to Japanese employment records. One such woman was falsely classified as a nurse along with at least a dozen other verified comfort women who were not nurses or secretaries. Currently, the South Korean government is investigating hundreds of cases on these lists.[99]

Koreans in Unit 731

Koreans, along with many other Asians, were experimented on in Unit 731, a secret military medical experimentation unit in World War II. The victims who died in the camp included at least 25 victims from the former Soviet Union, Mongolia and Korea.[100]

Discrimination of Korean leprosy patient by Japan

Colonial Korea was subject to the same Leprosy Prevention Laws of 1907 and 1931 as the Japanese home islands. These laws directly and indirectly permitted the segregation of patients in sanitariums, where forced abortions and sterilization were common. The laws authorized punishment of patients "disturbing the peace," as most Japanese leprologists believed that vulnerability to the disease was inheritable.[101] In Korea, many leprosy patients were also subjected to hard labor.[102]

Atomic bomb casualties

Many Koreans were drafted for work at military industrial factories in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[22] According to the secretary-general of a group named Peace Project Network, "there were a total of 70,000 Korean victims in both cities". Japan paid South Korea 4 billion yen and built a welfare center in the name of humanitarian assistance, not as compensation to the victims.[23]

Japan's coverup efforts

Many argue that sensitive information about Japan's occupation of Korea is difficult to obtain, and that this is due to the fact that the Government of Japan has covered up many incidents that would otherwise lead to severe international criticism.[97][98][103] Koreans have often expressed their abhorrence of human experimentation carried out by the Imperial Japanese Army where people often became human test subjects in such macabre experiments as liquid nitrogen tests or biological weapons development programs (See articles: Unit 731 and Shiro Ishii). Though some vivid and disturbing testimonies have survived, they are largely denied by the Japanese Government even to this day.[103][104]

The Japanese Government was recently accused of the burial of non-Japanese test-subject bodies from World War II several dozen feet below buildings in Japanese urban areas (such as the bodies found under the Toyama No. 5 apartment blocks) in order to cover up wartime experiments. The government denied any responsibility. The existence of unmarked mass graves on the "west side of Tokyo is deeply troubling". The testimony of Toyo Ishii, a nurse involved in the coverup, was downplayed or ignored.[103][104][105] "After more than 60 years of silence, the 84-year-old nurse's story is the latest twist in the legacy of Japan's rampage." These coverups and falsification of data have made accurate assessment of Japan's impact on Korea very difficult.

South Korean presidential investigation commission on pro-Japanese collaborators

In 2006, Roh Moo-hyun, the President of South Korea, appointed an investigation commission into the issue of locating descendants of pro-Japanese collaborators from the times of the 1890s until the collapse of Japanese rule in 1945.

In 2010, the commission concluded its five volume report. As a result, the land property of 168 South Korean citizens has been confiscated by the government, these citizens being descendants of pro-Japanese collaborators.[106]

See also

Notes and references

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  3. ^ Hunter, P.43.
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  5. ^ Japanese Cabinet Meeting document Nov, 1882 p.6 left 陸軍外務両者上申故陸軍工兵中尉堀本禮造外二名並朝鮮国二於テ戦死ノ巡査及公使館雇ノ者等靖国神社ヘ合祀ノ事
  6. ^ Japanese Cabinet Meeting document Nov, 1882 p.2 left
  7. ^ Japanese Cabinet Meeting document Nov, 1882
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 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

Coordinates: 37°35′N 127°00′E / 37.583°N 127°E / 37.583; 127


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