Japanese daily blasts Tokyo center for distorting history
July 11, 2020
Global Korean Post
By Lee Kyoung Mi and Lee Jihae
Voices within Japan are criticizing the Industrial Heritage Information Centre in Tokyo for distorting the history of the nation’s forced work and thus breaking its pledge to the international community.
The major Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun on July 9 ran an editorial titled “Conflict of World Heritage, Must Face Dark History,” saying “To say the current exhibition is fulfilling the pledged purpose is difficult,” referring to the content displayed at the center.
“A nation cannot build trust if it breaks the principle of faithfully keeping a pledge.”
“Needless to say, the testimonies of those who knew that period are invaluable but at the same time, we cannot comprehensively understand history simply by relying on individual accounts of their experiences,” it added.
“Official documents of the Japanese government from that period have proven that violence was inflicted on Korean workers in the process of their forced mobilization, and that they were forced to work under harsh conditions. This has also been proven in trials in Japan.”
In July 2015, the 23 sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution were designated UNESCO World Heritage after the Japanese government promised to fully acknowledge its history of forced work and take suitable measures to commemorate the sacrifices of the victims.
Tokyo, however, is under mounting criticism for glossing over and distorting the reality of its history of forced labor. Contrary to its pledge, it has displayed videos of residents of Hashima (Battleship) Island claiming that no discrimination against Koreans occurred.
The Asahi editorial said, “Every country’s path has both light and shadow and is bound to have complicated relations with neighboring countries,” adding, “Regardless of that light and shade, both Japan and Korea must humbly face the historical truth and assume responsibility for thinking of the future. Avoiding the dark side will cause the light of cultural heritage to fade.”
Earlier on June 13, Kyodo News, another Japanese news outlet, warned that the center’s exhibition “could cause criticism that it promotes historical revisionism that tries to cover up the past.”