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Bukgwan Battle Monument Will Likely Be Returned after 100 Years

Bukgwan Battle Monument Will Likely Be Returned after 100 Years

Posted March. 01, 2005 22:48,   


The Bukgwan Battle Monument, which is the monument that commemorates the Battle against the Japanese invasion (“Imjinwaeran”) between 1592 and 1598, will likely be returned within this year, which is exactly 100 years since Japan looted it.

In the meeting with a Korea-Japan private organization which has been conducting the campaign to return the monument, the Tokyo Yasukuni Shrine, which possesses the monument, promised to return it if South and North Korea agree on the return and the South Korean government officially asks for it from the Japanese government.

On the afternoon of this day, Buddhist priest Chosan, head of the National Movement for the Return of the Monument of Bukgwan Battle, revealed this right after the meeting with Nanbu Toshiyaki (南部利昭 宮司), head priest of the Yasukuni Shrine, at an office at the shrine.

Chosan also predicted that the monument could be returned in April at the earliest if South and North Korea strikes a written agreement in Beijing at the end of March and the South Korean government sends it to Japan through an official diplomatic channel. He added that Vice President of Joseon Buddhist Federation Shim Sang Jin would be in charge of the agreement as a representative of North Korea.

At the meeting, Japan-Korea Buddhist Welfare Association Chairman Kakinuma Senshin (枾沼洗心•75), who has been leading the public opinion for the monument return in Japan for the last eight years, Uri Party lawmaker Kim Won-woong, and Lee Jong-gul participated. Rep. Kim and Lee went to Japan to submit the public statement to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for the monument’s return.

Buddhist priest Kakinuma said, “All the obstacles in front of the return of the monument are removed,” and added, “The return of the Bukgwan Battle Monument will be an opportunity to announce the real friendship between the two countries.”

The Yasukuni Shrine had refused to return the monument on the reasons of “The monument will be returned to North Korea because it was originally in North Korea,” and, “The Japanese government should request the return first because the government put the monument at the shrine,” even though the shrine admits the justness of the return by saying, “We will return it because it is not ours.”

However, at Geumgang Mountain last December, South and North Korean private organizations agreed that South Korea should receive the monument first and transfer it to North Korea later, and the Japanese government is known to have changed its attitude.

Lawmaker Kim Won-woong, who met Japanese high ranking diplomatic official in the morning of this day, said, “There are many opinions against the monument’s return on the reason of the 1965 Korea-Japan Agreement, which stipulates possession of cultural assets.” But he added, “There are some friendly opinions that the monument should be exceptional.”

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com