As of 2010, there are approximately 600,000 registered Korean residents in Japan. Although it is unclear how many unregistered Koreans live in Japan, there are dozens of North Korean defectors every year who attempt to make it into Japan.
According to Reuters
, local North Korean state news agency reported that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Supreme Leader donated $500,000 to Japan to assist Korean expatriates. There wasn’t any more information than that, but it was noted by the Associated Press
that the money would only go to pro-Pyongyang residents.
“Leader Kim Jong-il sent (a) relief fund of 500,000 U.S. dollars to Korean residents in Japan who suffered from the killer quake and tsunami happened there,” stated Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang’s official news agency.
Pyongyang’s Red Cross Society has sent $100,000 to its Japanese equivalent, notes Agence-France Presse
"The optimist in me is saying that Kim Jong-il, the son of a Anti-Japanese freedom fighter is forgoing the past and showing compassion for the Japanese," said Randall Baran-Chong, Executive Board Member of HanVoice, in an e-mail to Digital Journal.
"The cynic in me is saying that Kim Jong-il is pulling a power play to make Japan look as though it is subservient to North Korea, and need their help, despite the fact that North Korean population continues to starve and suffer."
The HanVoice Executive added that the Kim family has offered aid to its fellow regional neighbors. Baran-Chong said the Kim regime “has shown its altruism out of schadenfreude” in 1984 when the North offered aid to South Korea during the flooding crisis.
For years now, there has been no diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea. The leadership in North Korea usually refers to Japan as a “war monger.” The tension between the two nations stems from the Japanese 35-year colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula
in the first half of the 20th century.
Furthermore, hostilities have not been resolved when North Korea kidnapped Japanese citizens
in the 1970s and 1980s in order to assist in the training of spies.
According to statistics from the Bank of Korea
, North Korea’s $500,000 donation is equivalent to the annual salary of more than 500 of its citizens in 2009.
Japan’s death toll
has reached more than 9,800 and more than 17,500 are still missing, according to the nation’s police agency.