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World Heritage listing of Japanese industrial site requires apology

World Heritage listing of Japanese industrial site requires apology

Posted July. 04, 2015 07:03,   


A campaign against the World Heritage listing without Japan’s apology has begun at the venue for UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which discusses on listing of Japan’s old industrial sites where Koreans were forced to labor under the colonial rule.

“We’ve launched a campaign to make public Japan’s forced labor to the international delegations in front of the World Conference Center, Bonn in Germany, where the 39th UNESCO World Heritage Committee is being held,” said the civic group dealing with Japan’s recruitment of people for forced labor on Friday. The civic group members have handed out flyers and put up placards and banners containing testimonies of the forced labor victims who were forcibly mobilized to the Mitsubishi shipbuilding site in Nagasaki and the Hashima coal mine, etc. In the Hashima coal mine alone, some 600 Koreans were forcibly mobilized and forced to labor under harsh conditions.

“If Japanese industrial sites are listed as World Heritage without an apology for the cruel history of forcing people in colonies to labor, it is whitewashing Japan’s invasion to neighboring countries and making fool of the international community,” said the civic group activists.

This campaign has been approved by the German government through the prior-reporting system. Some 50 Koreans residing in Germany, including Ji Hwa-soon and Shin Jeong-hee who came to the nation in the 1970s as dispatched nurses, have come from Leverkusen and other places in Germany to Bonn to support the campaign. “Since the Korean population in Bonn is not big, we are grateful that Koreans living far away have come to Bonn to support the campaign,” said Kim Hyun-jin, the former president of the Korean Community Association in Bonn. Jointly with CAIRA, the association for cultural asset repatriation, the civic group said it will continue the campaign until July 8 when the World Heritage Committee is ended.

Discussion on whether to list Japanese industrial sites as World Heritage will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Korea and Japan have reached a consensus in principle to search for an amicable settlement of the controversy over World Heritage listing at the foreign ministerial talks on June 21. However, there is still a big gap in details. At the center of the dispute is how to stipulate the history of Japan’s recruitment for forced labor. Although the both governments want to reach a settlement rather than putting up a vote, a source from the Korea’s foreign ministry said it still requires fine-tuning.

Japan reportedly showed sensitive reaction to the Korean government’s statement of its opinion for decision making on the World Heritage listing. Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama has met with his Korean counterpart, Kim Hong-gyun, to have discussion on the issue at a closed meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.