This essay is a reflection on the significance of U.S. accountability to the struggles of Jeju Islanders for reparations. Under international law, a strong case can be made for the United States’ obligation to acknowledge its role in the Jeju atrocities and to provide compensation to the victims.1 Addressing the United States’ responsibility for complicity in these actions will prove controversial, no doubt, for it has significant implications not for U.S. actions in other parts of the world but for all states engaged in military occupations or acting through surrogate governments. These legal and political ramifications diminish the likelihood of voluntary remedial action by the United States, and the international legal system is ill-suited to compel compliance. Nonetheless, even if Jeju Islanders are ultimately unable to obtain full satisfaction from the United States government for its role in the atrocities to which they have been subjected, I believe that recognition of the international legal obligations incurred by the U.S. in that process can reinforce the legitimacy of their claims, thereby aiding in the restoration of their dignity and supporting their on-going struggles for self-determination.
Reflections on Accountability: The United States’ Violations of International Law on Jeju Island in the Aftermath of World War IIWorld Environmental and Island Studies
Citation InformationNatsu Taylor Saito, Reflections on Accountability: The United States’ Violations of International Law on Jeju Island in the Aftermath of World War II, 7 World Env't & Island Stud. 35 (2017).