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South Korea to seek removal of Japan sites from UNESCO list

Gunkanjima, an abandoned coal mining island town off the Coast of Nagasaki in Kyushu Prefecture, Japan, a UNESCO world heritage site. (Shutterstock)
Gunkanjima, an abandoned coal mining island town off the Coast of Nagasaki in Kyushu Prefecture, Japan, a UNESCO world heritage site. (Shutterstock)
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22 Jun 2020 07:06:02 GMT9
22 Jun 2020 07:06:02 GMT9

South Korea plans to send a letter to UNESCO this month to call for the removal of industrial revolution sites in Japan from its World Heritage List, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. 

South Korean culture minister Park Yang-woo and others revealed the plan in a report submitted to a South Korean ruling party lawmaker on Thursday, Yonhap reported on Sunday.

The sites, which are in the eight Japanese prefectures of Iwate, Shizuoka, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Kagoshima, include former coal mining facilities on the island of Hashima, known as "Gunkanjima" (battleship island), in Nagasaki.

The South Korean side has lodged a protest over exhibits at the Industrial Heritage Information Center in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, which opened to the public on June 15, under the claim that “the exhibits and contents deny the discriminatory treatment of Korean workers at Gunkanjima, distort historical facts.”

The industrial sites, which were registered to the World Heritage List in 2015, show the history of industrialization in Japan, from the closing years of the Edo period (1603-1867) to 1910.

South Korea had opposed the registration, claiming Japan ignored the history of forced labor.

However, South Korea eventually agreed to the registration after Japan promised to establish the information center.

South Korea reacted strongly against the exhibits, which included interview videos of former Gunkanjima residents saying that they have never heard of discrimination or abuse of Koreans on the island.

South Korea summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koji Tomita on June 15 to protest over the exhibits.

JIJI Press

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