Should the Japanese government pay compensation to mistreated prisoners of war during World War 2?Should the Japanese government pay compensation to mistreated prisoners of war during World War 2?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I don't think money would make any difference. It would just reopen old wounds. The truth is that any amount of money offered would be insulting. A better idea would be to make some kind of apology, put up a monument and so on. That kind of restitution would be better for everyone concerned.
pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

No.  For two reasons.

First, money isn't going to do anything to make up for what happened, especially now.  One of my father's uncles died as a Filipino soldier on the Bataan Death March.  My father and the people closer to that man wouldn't be helped in any serious way by a few dollars.  It would mean nothing more than an apology would.

Second, how are we going to decide who needs to be compensated how much for what?  How much did each POW suffer?  Equally?  What about the Japanese people (or the Germans, for that matter) who suffered because of Allied bombing of their cities?  They were innocent too.

War is terrible.  Terrible things are done by people in wars.  Paying reparations is pointless because it can't make up in any significant way for what has happened and because everyone in the war would have to pay reparations to everyone else.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Certainly, some type of gesture should be made in the attempts of healing and being able to achieve closure from such a terrible chapter in Japan's history.  I am not sure if reparations is a part of this, though.  My fundamental challenge with reparations is that I do not know the mathematical formula for properly calculating the formula for emotional violation, physical pain, and psychological trauma.  I am not sure I can determine how much, or what amount, would suffice.  In my mind, this is because monetary reparations always involve a fixed number, an external end.  However, what was endured, especially being a prisoner of war, is a subjective experience.  There can be no adequate method to effectively compensate for such internal pain.  The external end of money fails to do so because one can always increase the amount more to reflect the pain endured, and since it is impossible to fully reflect the pain endured, this means that no amount of money would reflect this.  It is because of this that I feel that reparations, as a means of compensation, is challenging.

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