Japan Opts to Remove Korean Memorial

A Korean memorial located in Japan, which was erected to pay tribute to those who were forced into labor during the Second World War, is now being taken down. Japan feels that it is not in the spirit of their nation to house a monument that brings to mind WWII atrocities. Much of Japan’s citizenry disagree with the decision regarding the Korean memorial, especially women who feel sympathy for those who were used as sex slaves during the war.

At first sight, the monument in question may not appear controversial to some. It bears an inscription, which acknowledges that past errors were made. The idea is to serve as a reminder of the atrocities committed during the war, and promise that such crimes will not be committed again. Some, however, feel that the Korean memorial is a thorn in the side of Japanese patriotism. Many living in the Gunma prefecture, where the monument is located, feel that its political undertones are counterproductive to the building of peace between native Japanese citizens and Koreans who are descended from the men and women who were put to work during the war.

The notion of political undertones at the site of the monument arise due to a gathering of citizens to honor those who were forced into labor during World War II. Some representatives of Japan have stood up to defend the Korean memorial, and point out that the decision being made appears to be motivated primarily by Japan’s current territorial disputes with Korea. The rising sentiment against Korea has led to hateful protests, which have not gone unnoticed by the United Nations.

Aside from labor in mines and factories, the use of “comfort women” has also been an issue that has garnered discussion in the wake of the decision to tear down the monument. Japanese officials remain steadfast in their views on both the Korean memorial and the issue of comfort women, and have actually recently declared that they only accepted guilt on the issue of sex slaves as part of a negotiation with Korea. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is among those who believe that comfort women are something of a myth, The Guardian reports.

While there has been some support for the Korean memorial, so far it appears that support to remove it has been much stronger. This means that its removal is likely imminent, especially due to the public petitions demanding that it be taken down. Although Japan plans to remove the Korean memorial, those who support it will likely not stay silent regarding their views.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE