I was recently reading one of those annoying but popular lists of famous something or another, and noticed at the bottom of it an article that said you needed at least an IQ of 130 to do well on this WW2 quiz.
Well, mine is a shade under the level of 150, making me a sub-genius and proving once and for all that I am one of those classic under achievers. I know that, at least.
Anyhow, I began to take the quiz and whoop-dee-doo, I was answering everything correctly. In my mind it was more about being old than being knowledgeable.
Still, when I got to a question regarding when Germany made its last WW2 reparations payments, I was bamboozled, guessing at 1960, and completely missing that it was sometime in 2010...
And then I decided to look up and see when Japan made its final WW2 reparations payments.
After WWII, it was estimated by the Allies that Japan had lost 42 percent of its national wealth. Therefore in 1951, Japan signed a treaty which would work for both sides.
Signed in San Francisco 1951, the 'Treaty of Peace with Japan', meant that "Japan will transfer its assets and those of its nationals in countries which were neutral during the war, or which were at war with any of the Allied Powers, or, at its option, the equivalent of such assets, to the International Committee of the Red Cross which shall liquidate such assets and distribute the resultant fund to appropriate national agencies."
Article 14 states: "Japan should pay reparations to the Allied Powers for the damage and suffering caused by it during the war. Japan will promptly enter into negotiations with Allied Powers".
So what does all that mean?
While one apparently can't measure human life and suffering in dollars and cents, victors of war apparently gave it a pretty good shot.
Reparation amounts for Japan were, to:
- Philippines: US$550 million (¥198-billion), and were made in 1956;
- Vietnam: US$39 million (¥14.04 billion), made in 1959);
- International Committee of the Red Cross to compensate prisoners of war (POW): US$6.67 million (¥4.54109 billion) was made.
Regarding Article 14, Japan signed a peace treaty with a total of 49 countries in 1952, and then concluded bilateral agreements with the following countries:
- Burma - US$20 million in 1963;
- Cambodia - unknown amount in 1959;
- Denmark - unknown amount, unknown date, of completion;
- Indonesia - US$223.08 million in 1958;
- Korea (Republic of) - US$300 million in 1965;
- Laos - unknown amount in 1958;
- Malaysia - $25 million Malaysian dollars (¥2.94 billion) in 1967);
- Micronesia - unknown amount in 1969;
- Mongolia - unknown amount in 1977;
- Netherlands - US$10 million in 1956;
- Philippines - US525 million US dollars (¥52.94 billion) in 1967;
- Spain - US$5.5 million in 1957;
- Sweden - unknown amount, unknown date of completion;
- Thailand - ¥5.4 billion in 1955).
Some countries which could have insisted on reparation payments said don't worry about it:
- China (People's Republic of): 1972 via a Joint Communiqué of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China;
- USSR: 1956 via the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration.
If you were look at the dollar/yen amounts paid out to some of these countries - even by 1950s economic standards, they seem small.
Perhaps this time, however, the Allied nations learned from their horrible mistake against Germany following the Great War (WWI), when the penalties imposed on that country led to hyper inflation where it was cheaper to wipe one's butt with a 1-million Deutsch Mark bill than to purchase toilet paper.
I'm not exaggerating.
Anyhow, the German poverty that was seen by its populace was staggering. It wasn't the people who were to blame for Germany's actions during the war... that was the leadership.
Regardless, the hyperinflation caused by its forced reparations payments also bred a new type of political party - National Socialism... the Nazi Party and the rise of Adolph Hitler who was able to prey on German pride to allow it to haul itself up from the mud it have been living in in the decade immediately after the war.
You don't have to like what Hitler did, but he did what he had to do to bring Germany and its people strength.
Again... I'm not saying the ends justify the means, but the fact remains post-WWI Germany was totally screwed by the victors.
It's why Allied nations such as the US took a keen interest in Japan and helped prop up its economy post WWII.
You can hate Japan all you like, but the U.S. government saved that country after the war to make it an economic superpower by the 1980s.
While all countries listed above state that the WWII war reparations with Japan to be concluded, small factions within both South Korea and China do not accept their payoff as being significant enough and continue to try and battle in the court of law for further pay-outs.
For the record, I decided to look up other sources other than that quiz to see when Germany made its last WW2 payments... and the correct answer is that no one is sure because no one is exactly sure what amounts are owed.
Toss in the fact that Greece recently began making noise about suing Germany in 2015 for reparations for WW2, while my answer is not correct, none of the options given were correct either.
It sounds like a money grab to me - the Greece thing...
Similar to the situation with Greece, Israel's finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, announced in 2009 that he wanted Germany to pay between 450 million to 1 billion euros in reparations for Jews forced into slave labor during the Holocaust – despite the fact that Germany had paid off their allocated debt to Israel.
And, lest one think that only Japan and Germany were part of the so-called Axis Of Evil, along with major partner Italy, other currently well-respected countries were part of it too, and were told to pay up:
- Italy - US$360 million;
- Finland - US$300 million;
- Hungary - US$300 million;
- Romania - US$300 million;
- Bulgaria - US$70 million.
In fact, of all of the countries required to make WW2 reparations payments, only Finland is thought to have actually completed the matter.
And yet some 73 years after WW2's final round of artillery, who here has not a friend from at least one of those countries? Or from the countries making up the Allied Forces?