Foreign Ministry laments omission of Korean forced laborers in Japan’s report to UNESCO

Foreign Ministry laments omission of Korean forced laborers in Japan’s report to UNESCO


Dec. 6, 2019

Global Korean Post


By Lee Jihae

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Dec. 3 expressed “regret” over the Japanese government’s failure to honor its pledge to include in its State of Conservation Report measures to recognize and commemorate Korean victims of forced labor.

On Dec. 2, the report was posted on the homepage of the World Heritage Center of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In July 2015, UNESCO added to its World Heritage list 23 sites of the Meiji Industrial Revolution in Japan, seven of which were where Koreans were forced to work in brutal conditions in the 1940s, including Hashima Island.

At the time UNESCO registered the sites on the list, Japan pledged to abide by the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee urging Japan to recognize the forced labor victims and take measures to commemorate them.

Nothing on such pledges and the means to implement them, however, were written in the report.

The report, submitted in 2017, referred to the victims as laborers born on the Korean Peninsula who “supported” Japanese industry. Contrary to its pledge to build an information center in Nagasaki, where the Meiji sites are located, Japan said it will establish in Tokyo a think tank to serve as an information center.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul said it expresses its “disappointment” as the Japanese government “has shown no willingness to engage in dialogue and instead has chosen to prepare and publish the current progress report with no consultation with the Korean government,” despite recommendations from the committee June last year urging Japan to faithfully implement its pledges and hold dialogue with Korea.

“The Government of the Republic of Korea urges Japan to faithfully implement the follow-up measure to remember the victims that Japan promised to the international community, and it furthermore urges the Japanese Government to engage in dialogue on this matter,” the ministry said.