Dominican Republic Compensates Japanese Immigrants

The Yomiuri Shimbun

DAJABON, Dominican Republic — The government of the Dominican Republic has accepted responsibility for failing to allocate farmland promised to Japanese immigrants ahead of their relocation to the Caribbean nation under Japan’s postwar emigration policy, and has started paying an amount equivalent to over ¥20 million per household in compensation.

Regarding the immigrants, the Japanese government in 2006 admitted responsibility for promoting their migration. According to the Foreign Ministry, this is the first time a host country has agreed to pay compensation for Japanese immigrants to Latin America.

Immigration to the Dominican Republic was promoted by the Japanese government, which was concerned about rapid population growth after being defeated in World War II, and 1,319 people from 249 households immigrated between 1956 and 1959. The Dominican government reportedly promised to provide each family with arable land equivalent to six to 18 hectares. No land was given, however, and the immigrants lived under extremely harsh conditions.

According to the Dominican government, compensation is being offered to 45 households that have settled in the republic and have not received alternative land or other compensation from the Dominican government to date. The amount of compensation is about 8.44 million Dominican pesos (approximately ¥21.05 million), and payments began in February 2022. A review will be carried out for the 42 households that were not included in the compensation program, and those that meet certain criteria will be compensated.

Some Dominican immigrants had filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government seeking compensation for damages. In 2006, the Tokyo District Court dismissed the claims on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run out, but nonetheless found the government liable for tortious behavior. Following the ruling, then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a statement of apology and released up to ¥2 million per person as a lump-sum payment.