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SKorea to seize assets of collaborators in Japanese colonial era for first time

SKorea to seize assets of collaborators in Japanese colonial era for first time

The South Korean government announced Wednesday its first-ever plan to seize assets gained by alleged Korean collaborators during Japanese colonial rule as part of efforts to reconcile with its past more than 60 years after the end of the peninsula's occupation.
South Korea will confiscate 3.6 billion won (US$3.9 million, euro2.8 million) worth of land from the descendants of nine alleged collaborators who worked for Japan during its 1910-45 colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula, a presidential committee said in a statement.
The property owners can file a lawsuit to contest the government decision, the committee said.
Committee head Kim Chang-kuk said in a statement that the seizures, the first of more to come, are "historically meaningful as the first visible success" of government efforts to punish alleged collaborators.
Such efforts will enable South Korea "to recover our people's dignity that was violated by Japanese imperialism and those involved in pro-Japanese and anti-nationalistic acts," Kim said.
Proceeds from the sale of the seized assets will be used to provide assistance to independence fighters during the colonial rule and their descendants, as well as in national projects to commemorate the independence movement.
Among the nine initial collaborators named was the late Lee Wan-yong, who as a minister played a key role in signing a 1910 treaty with Japan that placed Korea under Japan's rule.
As part of South Korea's efforts to revisit its past history, the committee has been investigating the properties of descendants of 452 alleged collaborators since last July. The committee said they will initiate probes into the assets of additional collaborators whose "pro-Japanese activities are deemed too severe."
South Koreans still harbor deep-rooted bitterness against Japan for its colonial rule and past South Korean governments have come under criticism for not doing enough to punish the so-called "national traitors."
In 1948, the then-South Korean government established a task force to investigate pro-Japanese collaborators but the probes stalled the following year due to opposition from founding President Rhee Syng-man.
In 2004, South Korea passed a law enabling investigations into alleged "anti-national" activities of people who served above the rank of second lieutenant in the military or who worked as police or military police during the Japanese colonial era.
A civilian panel in 2005 accused former President Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea for 18 years after a 1961 coup, of being a Japanese collaborator for serving as an officer in the Japanese army during colonial rule.
Park's daughter Park Geun-hye is a former chairwoman of South Korea's conservative Grand National Party and plans to run in this year's presidential elections in December. The opposition has alleged the government's probe into history is politically motivated.


Updated : 2021-07-30 16:37 GMT+08:00