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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 120

(Question No. 1152)


Senator Newman asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 1 March 1994:

  (1) Is the Minister aware that neither the Republic of Korea nor the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were signatories to the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco.

  (2) Is the Minister aware that the Treaty of San Francisco does not preclude the signatories from seeking further reparations, but leaves open the question of further reparations, which were to be the subject of bilateral negotiations.

  (3) In light of these facts, and previous correspondence from Senator Newman to the Minister, is the Minister now prepared to take any action on Australia's behalf to pressure the Japanese Government to provide compensation for Asian `comfort' women, and has the Minister supported action taken at the Commission of Human Rights to force Japan to fulfil its obligations in this regard.


Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) Neither the Republic of Korea nor the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were signatories to the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. Korea was not a combatant against Japan during World War II and was not party to the said treaty. Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan were normalised in 1965. At that time the Japanese Government made a financial contribution of approximately US$500 million to the Republic of Korea, although the Japanese Government has never formally agreed that this payment was for reparations. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Japan have still not normalised relations.

  (2) The Australian Government's position, based on legal advice available to it, is that the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 represented a legitimate and final solution to the issue of claims for reparations arising from Japan's actions during World War II. In particular, under Article 14(b) of the Treaty, the Allied Powers waived all further reparations claims by the Allied Powers and their nationals against Japan.

  (3) The Australian Government has welcomed the recent statements by the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Hosokawa, that Japan needs to face up to its wartime actions. Acknowledgment of and atonement for these past actions will enhance acceptance of Japan's role in the East Asian region. While Prime Minister Hosokawa's statements of regret are considerably more forthcoming than those made by previous Japanese governments, further reparations for victims of Japanese war-time actions have been ruled out.

  The legal position outlined under (2) above does not provide the Australian Government or other signatories to the San Francisco Treaty with a legal basis to pursue the reparations issue. So far as the Australian Government is aware, the issue of compensation for Asian `comfort' women has not been raised in the Commission on Human Rights and hence the question of Australian Government support for any action there has not arisen.