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Foreign Ministry blasts Japan for denial of anti-Korean discrimination

The government has expressed regret over a Japanese government report to UNESCO denying that discrimination occurred against Koreans forced to work at Japan's modern industrial sites before and during World War II.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Lim Soo-suk on Dec. 13 said in a commentary that the Korean government "expresses its regret over the fact that the World Heritage Committee's (WHC) repeated decisions and the follow-up measures promised by Japan are not being faithfully implemented."

The measures refer to those promoting understanding of the existence of Koreans and others in the 1940s who were forced to work under harsh conditions at select industrial sites and taking appropriate measures to remember the victims through actions like opening an information center.

"The government of the Republic of Korea urges Japan to fully take into account the conclusions of the UNESCO-ICOMOS mission report and faithfully implement the follow-up measures that Japan promised, in accordance with the Decision adopted at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee in July last year," the spokesperson added.

Uploaded on the website of the WHC, the Japanese government report said, "...work at Hashima Coal Mine, indeed probably for most mines in the world in the period, was severe for all miners," adding, "...credible evidence to date has not indicated these (working) conditions were any worse for those from the Korean Peninsula."

When Japan's modern industrial sites like Hashima (Battleship) Island in 2015 were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage, Tokyo pledged to inform the world of the Koreans forced to work there but has not kept its word. In July last year, the WHC expressed "strong regret" over the broken pledge and adopted a resolution urging Japan to submit by Dec. 1 a state of conservation report.

By Lee Kyoung Mi