Japanese embassy: What RM207b?

KUALA LUMPUR:  The Japanese embassy today denied any knowledge of the RM207 billion compensation for Japan’s Death Railway project as pursued by PAS’ Mohamad Nizar Jamaludin.

Japan’s second secretary to Malaysia Takaharu Suegami said today his government never confirmed that RM207 billion was paid to the Malaysian government to compensate some 30,000 Malaysians once recruited as forced labour in its Death Railway project.

“Regarding the compensation of RM207 billion inquired by (Nizar), it is outside of the involvement and knowledge of the government of Japan,” he said in a statement.

“We must remind you that the embassy of Japan has never confirmed that RM207 billion was paid to the Malaysian government as compensation for the victims of the ‘Death Railway’ project,” he added.

Suegami’s statement followed claims that RM207 billion in compensation was paid a decade ago, but neither the surviving victims nor their families had received any payment.

Nizar had earlier told FMT that he had obtained internal information regarding the issue from the Finance Ministry in the form of a memorandum quoting the sum of RM207 billion.

Agreement for RM25m settled in 1972

Suegami said all matters related to compensation during the Second World War had been settled under the San Francisco Treaty, 1952.

He added there was also a mutual agreement between Malaysia and Japan in 1967 whereby Japan had agreed to supply Malaysia with grants, products and manpower totaling RM25 million.

“The necessary arrangements for its implementation were already conducted by the two governments,” he explained.

“The government of Malaysia has agreed that all questions arising out of the unhappy events during the Second World War which may affect the good relations between the two countries are fully and finally settled.

“All the supply in accordance with the agreement was completed by May 6, 1972,” he added.

Suegami assured that his country was dedicated to building future-oriented and cooperative relationships with Asian nations, and would continuously work to achieve “peace and prosperity of the world in the future as well”.

Finance Ministry memo

Nizar had said he received an internal memorandum quoting the RM207 billion sum as compensation for the Death Railway project.

“It was a memo from the Finance Ministry mentioning they will cooperate with the Attorney-General’s Office and the Human Resources Ministry to make a Cabinet paper to approve how the particular amount shall be dispersed,” the Bukit Gantang MP said.

“That’s why in parliament I tried to ask the minister of finance (Najib Tun Razak). Because from the memo, I was made to understand the amount was kept in the treasury,” he added.

Nizar also believes the sum had already been paid by Japan to Malaysia as early as 2004 because Bank Negara had in that year issued a banker’s cheque for the sum of RM107 billion and another RM100 billion in the form of Maybank shares, registered on Dec 13, 2004.

“I retrieved a hand written note dated Dec 13, 2004 from a meeting with the board of directors of Bank Negara, in which it quoted – and this was verified by the governor herself with her signature – that RM100 billion was issued under a Bank Negara bankers cheque for no apparent reason and the balance of RM107 billion was made as dispersement payment for shares in Maybank,” he said.

“This surely cannot be a coincidence,” he added.

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