Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945 brought the Pacific War, and ultimately WWII, to an end. As in any war, after the cessation of hostilities, sensitive issues needed to be managed in order to maintain new relationships between former enemies. Reparations and compensation for wartime actions became the first of these issues. For the U.S., its former Allies, and Japan, the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty included provisions to settle war claims between the former combatants. For the duration of the Cold War, all sides appeared to be satisfied with the claim’s settlement. And yet, as soon as the Cold War ended, demands for compensation and apology emerged in both the U.S. and Japan by WWII veterans, former prisoners of war (POW), former forced laborers, and comfort women.
There have been two main avenues pursued to obtain the fulfillment of their demands: legislative and judicial. The judicial avenue is a direct avenue open to those seeking compensation and apology for WWII sufferings. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits file a suit against a government (usually foreign) or against a private company that operated during the war. The legislative option is an indirect avenue open to those seeking compensation and apology for WWII sufferings. Individuals, or groups that represent individuals, lobby domestic political representatives to press for bills or resolutions that demand compensation or apologies from governments (mostly foreign) and/or companies for the damages they inflicted during the war. This section will deal with the legislative option.
The majority of the legislative activity pertaining to WWII settlement claims has been in the United States Congress. However, while many bills and resolutions emerge with increasing frequency, the majority of this legislation dies in committee. This, in turn, has motivated other legislative bodies to respond to lobbyist demands in foreign legislatures as well as state legislatures in the United States. It has also stimulated many groups to pursue their demands via the judicial option.
We present links to some of the more prominent bills and resolutions concerning POWs/forced laborers and comfort women. As with all aspects of this website, we welcome any updated information or corrections concerning the data we have listed.