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Former German Chancellor expresses regret over removal order of ‘statue of peace’

Former German Chancellor expresses regret over removal order of ‘statue of peace’

Posted October. 13, 2020 07:45,   

Updated October. 13, 2020 07:45


A legal procedure has begun to protect “The Statue of Peace” erected in Berlin, Germany from being removed. Local people, including former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his wife, also expressed their opposition to the removal of the girl statue.

Germany-based civic group Korea Verband, which was involved with the installation of the statue, said on Monday (local time) that they will apply for an injunction with Berlin’s administrative court to invalidate the Mitte district’s order to remove the statue. It will also file an objection against the Mitte district.

The statue was set up on Sept. 25 with the permission of the Mitte district in order to commemorate the victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery during the World War ll. But the district office sent an official document to the Korea Verband last Wednesday, ordering them to remove the statue by Wednesday. It added the statue will be removed forcibly if it is not removed by the deadline. The Mitte district office said an inscription on the statue that had not been notified in advance was the reason for the removal order but the Japanese government’s persistent request to remove the statue appears to have affected its decision.

“We have come to a conclusion, after legal consultation with our lawyers, that the administrative order is unreasonable,” said Korea Verband Director Han Jung-hwa during a phone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo. “The statue will not be removed by Oct. 14 if our injunction application is approved.” If the injunction is approved, the statue will remain in its current location until the court makes a final judgment. But the Korea Verband intends to protect the statue by appealing to the public since there is no guaranteed victory in a legal battle.

Korea Verband is planning to stage a protest against the removal of the statue in front of the Mitte district office on Oct. 13 with Germans citizens, who oppose the removal of the statue, and deliver its statement to the members of the district council. It will also collect signatures for a petition from the citizens of Berlin in order to raise awareness in German society that this is not a dispute between Korea and Japan but an issue of human rights and victims of war crimes. About 2,000 people have signed the petition so far at www. petitionen.com.

Negative public opinion about Japan has been growing after the issue has been reported in the German media. A resident in the Mitte district told The Dong-A Ilbo that most of Germans had no information on the girl statue, the issue of sexual slavery, or Japan’s past wrongdoings, adding more and more Germans are criticizing the Japanese government for its handling of its past wrongdoings.

The Japanese government is using its diplomatic power to remove the girl statue in Berlin. The purpose is to turn the issue of sexual slavery and human rights into a dispute between Korea and Japan. But some experts say that such efforts are working against Japan.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com