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Japan Attempts to Put Island Where Koreans Were Worked to Death on World Heritage List

Japan Attempts to Put Island Where Koreans Were Worked to Death on World Heritage List

Updated August. 15, 2007 07:17

한국어

It was confirmed that a Japanese local government is trying to put buildings where Koreans were recruited for labor by force during Japanese colonial rule on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.

The “Truth Commission on Forced Labor under the Japanese Colonial Rule” of South Korea announced on Tuesday that Nagasaki is attempting to register several buildings on Hashima Island on the Heritage list of UNESCO.

The commission said it confirmed the information from “The Meeting for Human Rights Protection for Ethnic Koreans in Nagasaki,” a civic group in Japan.

The Japanese city also publicly announced on its web site, “Since the architecture built on Hashima Island in 1910 is the first residential building constructed with steel and concrete and the legacy of Japan’s modernization, we are trying to register it on the World Heritage list.”

According to a South Korean commission, the majority of the buildings housed 500 Korean laborers who were forcefully recruited by Japan from 1939 to 1945.

The Japanese civic group found from a document on the state of the burial and cremation of workers who died in the Hashima mines that 122 Koreans died on the island from cranial damage, drowning, and crushing.

The island, 18.5 km southwest from Nagasaki port, has 10 concrete buildings with four to seven stories along the coastline.

The Hashima mine, once owned by Japan’s Mitsubishi company, was one of the most productive mines in Japan during World War 2.

The South Korean commission criticized that Nagasaki is attempting to develop Hashima Island as a tourist destination while covering up their crimes against Koreans.

“The Island was a living hell. You could not dare to escape it because of high breakwaters and huge waves. By the end of the war, Koreans were involved in dangerous work and they were often vulnerable to violence of mine supervisors,” recalled Park Jun-gu, 87, a victim of the mine.

Lee Jae-cheol, spokesperson of the commission, said, “Nagasaki’s attempt to put Hashima Island where Koreans suffered so much on the World Heritage List is in line with the Japanese government’s attitude of whitewashing its history. We will take appropriate actions in relation to Nagasaki’s moves.”