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Seoul officially confirm‍s Koreans forced to work on Sakhalin

Seoul officially confirm‍s Koreans forced to work on Sakhalin

Posted July. 03, 2015 07:25,   


The South Korean government has officially confirmed for the first time that 846 Korean workers managed by Imperial Japan on Russia`s far eastern island of Sakhalin during the colonial era were forced to work for Japan. The confirmation is the first result of Seoul`s project to analyze records of Koreans on Sakhalin and will likely be used as key evidence in lawsuits against the Japanese government or corporations.

A South Korean government committee tasked with investigating and supporting victims of forced labor during Japan‘s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula said Thursday that it had obtained 135 documents involving 7,472 Koreans on Sakhalin from Russia`s national and local archives. Among them, the committee put the names of 846 Koreans, who were clearly forced to work, on the government`s list of forced laborers. The panel plans to make an official announcement of the investigation results.

Some of the documents include forcibly mobilized Koreans workers` personal information compiled by Japan`s Toyohara Police Station between 1941 and 1944. The documents contain detailed information such as where they worked and when and why were put on wanted lists.

A committee official said that it had uncovered many "wanted" documents made by the Japanese to catch laborers who ran away from Japanese companies where they were forced to work. "These materials can prove the forced labor by Japan`s state organizations," the official said.

The committee said it had been able to obtain the documents since last year due to consultations between Seoul and Moscow in 2013. The workplaces of the Korean forced laborers included coal mines, construction sites and steel mills run by many major Japanese corporations that still exits such as Nishimatsugumi, Mitsubishi and Mitsui. "Although Japan denies its forced labor on Sakhalin, the fact has been revealed that it used police and other state forces to manage Korean laborers," said Bang Il-kwon, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

The committee plans to examine the entire materials at archives run by Sakhalin`s local authorities over the next four years. However, the South Korea government has reported stopped providing budget support for the committee.

Meanwhile, the UNESCO`s World Heritage Committee is expected to determine whether to recognize "Sites of Japan`s Meiji Industrial Revolution" as world heritage on Saturday, German time, at the earliest. South Korea and Japan have been waging a fierce war of nerves over the decision to be made at the UNESCO committee meeting, which has been taking place since June 28. Although the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed last month to "smoothly resolve" the issue, there remains differences over concrete measures. While Seoul insists that "forced labor" that happened at the sites be clearly stated, while Tokyo refuses to use the word "forced."