The suffering of Japanese fishermen on the Lee Syng-man line
South Korean has been unilaterally criticizing Japan for the deteriorating relations between the two countries, saying that the rightward shift of Japan is the cause of the deterioration between the two countries. Also, they claim that the relationship between the perpetrators and the victims will never change even after a thousand years. However, looking back at history, South Korea has continued to act and respond to Japan in an unreasonable and outrageous manner. Kunitoshi Matsuki, a former major trading company employee and researcher on Japan-Korea relations, looks into the “irrational truth” that South Korea has been keeping silent about.
The first thing to look upon is the Lee Syng-man Line. In January 1952, just prior to the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which approved the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty, South Korea unilaterally drew a military demarcation line and created exclusive economic zone on the high seas in order to monopolize maritime resources and expand its territory.
No international law could justify this, but the Japanese government was bound by Article 9 of the Constitution and other provisions, and was unable to do anything about it. For thirteen years, Japanese fishermen suffered the torture of being shot to death by South Korean security boats, or physically assaulted, captured, interned, and forced to starve to death.
A detailed record of the events of that time is found in the History of the Japan-Korea Fisheries Campaign, published by the Japan-Korea Fisheries Council. In order not to let the tyranny of the Korean people fade away, let’s take a look back at this tragic past.
South Korean patrol boats attacked Japanese fishing boats sailing outside the Lee Seung-man line, capturing innocent Japanese fishermen and taking them to Pusan harbor. They brutally tortured the fishermen, including beating them with sticks, forced them to confess, and handed down a sentence in a one-sided trial with no regard for human rights that would be unthinkable in a civilized country.
The time behind bars was extremely miserable. Around 20 people were crammed into a small cell and had to sleep with their bodies as well as their hands and feet stacked on top of each other. The filth of the food was unspeakable; moldy wheat and rotten fish were frequently eaten by the prisoners, which were not for human consumption. Almost all of them were malnourished and wandered around the line of death, and some even died of starvation.
After 1954, even those who had completed their “prison terms” were not released, and the South Koreans held the internees “hostage” and made various demands on Japan. Deprived of the hope of returning to Japan, some of the internees are said to have gone beyond their physical and mental limits, have gone into a state of frenzy. The family members left behind also had to bear a heavy financial and emotional burden. One wife became mentally ill and committed suicide because she could not bear it.
The Coast Guard patrol boats, which were supposed to protect the Japanese fishermen, had their guns removed on the grounds of “avoiding any unforeseen circumstances”. In order to rescue a Japanese fishing boat that was about to be captured, they had no choice but to intervene unarmed with a South Korean security boat and escape the boat while taking the bullets themselves.
Until the signing of the Japan-Korea Basic Treaty, the Claims and Economic Cooperation Agreement and the Japan-Korea Fisheries Agreement in 1965, there were 3,929 Japanese fishermen detained as a result of illegal South Korean seizures, 44 killed or injured in attacks during the seizures, and the total amount of property damage at the time was about 9 billion yen.
In spite of this, South Korea has not issued a single apology or compensation to date. In fact, President Park Geun-hye continued to speak out against Japan in a high-handed manner. The Japanese people must never forget their fellow countrymen who died in ignominious circumstances as a result of South Korea’s outrageous actions.
About the author
Kunitoshi Matsuki was born in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1950. Immediately afterwards, he was in charge of Korea, and was stationed at the Seoul office from 1980 to 1984. After serving as Deputy General Manager of the Secretarial Office and Deputy General Manager of the Machinery Department, he left the company in 2000 and established Matsuki Shoji Co. He established Matsuki Shoji Co. A long-time researcher on Korean issues, he is the secretary-general of the National Movement for the Truth about Comfort Women. He is the author of “Truthfully, “Japan-Korea Annexation” Saved Korea” and “Thus Falsified Korea’s ‘Thousand Year Old Grudge'”.