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Heritage status for Japan industry sites draws mixed reaction from S Korea, China

34 Comments
By ELAINE KURTENBACH

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China and SK for the foreseeable future will always have "doubts" about anything related to Japan and it's stance on war history, and rightfully so in my opinion, as Japan has a rather nasty habit of late of wanting to rewrite history and make themselves look like the victim.

Here is to hoping things turn out differently this time, but I am not holding my breath!

0 ( +14 / -14 )

China and Korea are not critical about Japan for justices but for their national interest.

0 ( +18 / -18 )

Mere hours after representatives of Japan cooperated with South Korea and agreed to acknowledge its war time usage of Korean forced laborers, the foreign ministry backtracked and declined that forced laborers were used. This was after a government representative made a heart warming speech of reconciliation and self reflection in Germany. So much for integrity huh? Say one thing abroad yet do the complete opposite at home. Agree to help each other and then stab them in the back with no remorse.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2015/07/120_182261.html

How typical of Japan to be two faced. Is it no surprise that Korea doesn't hold a favorable view of such dishonest and dishonorable country? I have never ever in my life seen such immaturity from a "supposedly" 1st world nation. The country is run by spoiled delinquents.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

Thank you for your link.

They also cited the Japanese-language version of the statement, which avoided any straightforward expression of "forced labor."

I'm wondering why the article you cited makes this claim, and then doesn't give the Japanese-language version or a translation of that version.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If Japan had marked the places and POW camps and given tours and shown how wrong these places are I think that would have been much better than saying "no no we are remembering the time before all that happened"

10 ( +12 / -2 )

SchopenhauerJUL. 07, 2015 - 07:38AM JST

China and Korea are not critical about Japan for justices but for their national interest.

Says you.

If you think Chinese and Koreans lack cultural pride and respect for their ancestors, think again.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Koreans and Chinese can choose to see Japan however they want, and they rightfully see Japan as an arrogant country that learned the wrong lessons from World War II.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Japan claims that the people were "forced to work" but they were not "forced labors." Japan committed a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, but they portray as if they were victims of the war. They are simply sick people, not to be trusted.

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

Japan has a rather nasty habit of late of wanting to rewrite history and make themselves look like the victim.

Japan committed a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, but they portray as if they were victims of the war. They are simply sick people, not to be trusted.

Japanese people like Yoshida Shouin (whose school is one of the sites registered as World Heritage) had the impression that Europeans, and their descents, were invading, enslaving, or force selling drugs to the rest of the human race, and felt that they must join them (us) or become slaves too. I.e. I think that they felt that they were being forced into imperialism and, with the oil blockade, war when otherwise they would have happily remained a closed nation. It is from considerations such as these that encourages the Japanese to feel that they were in large part victims.

Would this be a "rewrite" in the sense of being an incorrect "portrayal", of history?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

WatchingStuff JUL. 07, 2015 - 08:00AM JST How typical of Japan to be two faced. Is it no surprise that Korea doesn't hold a favorable view of such dishonest and dishonorable country? I have never ever in my life seen such immaturity from a "supposedly" 1st world nation. The country is run by spoiled delinquents.

Japan settled those issues on a government-to-government basis in the form of economic cooperation under the normalization treaty in 1965. In the treaty, South Korea actually agreed never to make further compensation demands against Japan, either at a government or individual level, after receiving $800 millions (over $6 billion today) in grants and soft loans.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

China and SK for the foreseeable future will always have "doubts" about anything related to Japan

Yaburu, and with good reasons why they don't trust what anything Japan says anymore. Merely hours after the deal with struck and Japanese sites approved as UNESCO sites, Japan took back their words and now they say there were no "forced laborers", they were only "forced to work". Kyodo News now says that Japanese government has now decided to work abroad to let the world know that Japan did not use any forced laborers. So once again, Japan screws with word play.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/06/national/history/unesco-decides-to-add-meiji-industrial-sites-to-world-heritage-list/#.VZs0YhNViko

Stop blaming the Koreans and Chinese, and Japan should stop playing victim. Japan should stop playing with words, and stick to the agreement they dishonestly made with Korea. Japan is always pulling stunts like this which undermines anything they do and say.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Tokyo should have rejected Seoul. As Scarlet-PimpernelJ says, their argument was irrelevant. So, if UNESCO did not approve the registration, majority of Japanese, they are gentle, would become to hate Korea. It is better for Japan to keep away from Korea. What a pity!

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Japan committed a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor,

Which the US government knew was coming 6 days beforehand but allowed to happen so that they would have a reason to join the war.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

I think that the Japanese government was concerned with only one issue. Specifically, that Japan was in adherance to the International Labour Organization Convention C029 of 1930 and that her actions were entirely legal. Please note item (d). Korea had been annexed by Japan. So its population were legally Japanese. In terms of conscripted labor, The majority were homeland Japanese, and only near the end of WW2 were the Korean Japanese conscripted. It should also be noted that these laborers were paid. Furthermore, there were more applicants for this job from Korean Japanese than there were openings when initially the work was voluntary. The reason being that it was a highly paid job, considering that it had high risks.

Anyway, the point is that Japan is accepting that they had conscripted labor at that period of time, but it was also legal at the time.

Article 2

For the purposes of this Convention the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this Convention, the term forced or compulsory labour shall not include-- (a) any work or service exacted in virtue of compulsory military service laws for work of a purely military character; (b) any work or service which forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of a fully self-governing country; (c) any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations; (d) any work or service exacted in cases of emergency, that is to say, in the event of war or of a calamity or threatened calamity, such as fire, flood, famine, earthquake, violent epidemic or epizootic diseases, invasion by animal, insect or vegetable pests, and in general any circumstance that would endanger the existence or the well-being of the whole or part of the population; (e) minor communal services of a kind which, being performed by the members of the community in the direct interest of the said community, can therefore be considered as normal civic obligations incumbent upon the members of the community, provided that the members of the community or their direct representatives shall have the right to be consulted in regard to the need for such services.
-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Japanese people like Yoshida Shouin (whose school is one of the sites registered as World Heritage) had the impression that Europeans, and their descents, were invading, enslaving, or force selling drugs to the rest of the human race

And he was 100% right. Imagine Asia and Africa still under European rule.

Some 57,900 Koreans were forced into slave labor at seven of the 23 sites, including coalmines, shipyards, and steelworks, during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-45). Ninety four of them died and five others went missing while building warships, weapons and producing supplies for the Japanese military.

1 in 585, considering the work done, does not sound particularly "brutal" to me, especially for 1940s era safety standards, and during a war. I wonder how this compared to Japanese labourers who were dragged into service too.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

@JohnY921

Dude I'm Canadian, and I'm guessing you're American.

Please correct me if I'm wrong about the details but didn't the Americans "sneak attack" us in 1812 too? If I recall my history lesson the DoW came a day after attacks commenced. Sounds just like Pearl Harbour no? And don't you folk proclaim victim status for being pushed into that war too?

@CrazyJoe

I agree, but I would also add that Japan has a right to see themselves in a light that they like too. its even okay for them to see the Koreans and Chinese as being full of S**T. Everyone is entitled to their opinions even if its hateful, just dont ever act upon it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So I guess these men can be looked at as "Comfort Men", as digging coal made for lovely winter side chats next to the coal stove.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Japan's govt is utterly DISGUSTING they should have heritage status revoked immediately.

Thinking that FORCED LABOUR & FORCED TO WORK are different its bloody INSANE!

But yes from the mouth of Foreign Minister kishida that is EXACTLY what's happened, Japan has gone back on its word!

So now it s no forced labour, now what can we expect come August.

I don't think either SKorea or China need any more $$$ paid to them but surely Japan needs to face its history honestly, these bold face lies are truly sickening! No sincerity what so ever from Japan, the decline continues!

Another of many days to be embarrassed to be a gaijin in Japan!

0 ( +8 / -8 )

I wonder why?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So Japan is now formally claiming that while tens of thousands of Koreans were 'forced to work' at these sites, they were by no means 'forced labourers'..

4 ( +6 / -2 )

sfjp330

Japan settled those issues on a government-to-government basis in the form of economic cooperation under the normalization treaty in 1965. In the treaty, South Korea actually agreed never to make further compensation demands against Japan, either at a government or individual level, after receiving $800 millions (over $6 billion today) in grants and soft loans.

This is your typical japan apologist red herring argument. What does this have to do with anything? The discussion was about Japan acknowledging that it used forced laborers in order to get the site approved in Germany by UNESCO. Only hours after getting world heritage status, the government flip flopped 180 and now claims forced laborers wern't used.

Thats typical backstabbing 101. I don't know how anyone can find such blatant fraud defensible. South Korea has every right not to trust such a dishonest country.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

China and Korea are not critical about Japan for justices but for their national interest.

Correct.

If you think Chinese and Koreans lack cultural pride and respect for their ancestors, think again.

@igloobuyer He didn't say anything about Chinese and Koreans lacking cultural pride and respect for their ancestors. So your point is?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Politicizing any historical site is rampant throughout the world. Such would probably exist as long as societies have people who view history as a personal "value" issue, with a multitude of "selfish" and yet "justifiable" reasons that "suite" that particular situation and circumstance "convenient" and "advantageous" for that person or group. The key to all being "perspective".

When one forgets that "history" is only good as a source of learning and that it will never come back. One also forgets that "history" is always in the "making", and "changing" without an instant of "pause". In the making, everything changes with and from the smallest of actions. Like "wave", the smallest drop in the vast universe alters life as we know it, whether we like it or not.

Pearl Harbor was the rallying point of US nationalism to enter WWII. Interestingly the war went first to Europe. There are the beaches in France. There was the Berlin Wall and now the Korean "divide" and China and Taiwan "divide". In any case, they were and may be still useful sites. There are many such monuments in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa. The only difference is, that those sites are "reminders" of things "learned" and to prevent.

Such are the pyramids, the wall of China, and other similar monuments and sites throughout the world from which we learn not only history but culture and most importantly "human values". One of which is "appreciation" of "Life" itself and the role we as human beings play.

Regardless of World leaderships accepting any heritage site, for the local people, it has "heritage" beyond such "recognition" from others. It is the history of their very existence.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Folks,

It's just the usual exploitation of some incident in the past to reinforce various negative memes about today's Japan, e.g.

"Japan never apologize" (... in fact, it has).

When proven it has, they then say,

"But Japan backtracks" (... in fact, the position of the government remains the same. In a modern democracy, individuals have the freedom to make their own comments) "Japan does not face history ... Good Germany, bad Japan"

then demising in the usual insults of "evil", "disgusting" etc that the moderators would not allow is lobbied back at other nations.

Let's just remember, during the period of Japanese influence over Korean, the Korean population doubled, Korean life expectancy doubled, slavery was banned, and Koreans queued in their 10,000s to join the Japanese military and come to Japan.

You do not achieve that by murderous repression and widespread exploitation.

Such opportunities were oversubscribed, literally, by 1,000s of times. Why? Because the alternative was worse, e.g. poverty, starvation and crushing inescapable poverty at home.

Their circumstances were basically on a par with the Chinese, Irish, Italians and even Japanese who came to build America at the time it was being built.

One has to see these events in the context of the time and position on the evolution of Asian society and attempt to not retrospectively apply today's standards, expectations and human rights.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Koreans queued in their 10,000s to join the Japanese military and come to Japan.

Korean applications to join the JIA were mostly rejected until about 1944 when conscription was introduced because of the failing war efforts.

Not only were Koreans forced to work but also the Chinese and POW's. There's an enormous difference between volunteering to work and being force to work. In Britain during WWII 200,000 German POW's worked on farms and about 25,000 worked in construction. All were requested and none were forced and all received the union rates of the day for their work. They were allowed out of the POW's camps to work and return every evening. Many stayed in the country after the end of the war.

To obtain the UNESCO listing, the government stated the IJA used forced labor.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Not only were Koreans forced to work but also the Chinese and POW's.

Except the Koreans were not POW's. They were part of citizens of Japanese Empire at that time except that their conscription order was enacted in latter part of 1944. Prior to that, it was the Japanese who were subjected to such order.

This is yet again, a classic example of Koreans using distorted history to claim themselves as 'elevated victims' and like the predecessors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they caved in to their demands by having "Koreans' mentioned specifically in the statement.

The term 'forced labor' is now used so loosely that a person under the weather who happens to used up all his/her paid sick leave now fits the definition.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

WatchingStuffJUL. 07, 2015 - 07:02PM JST This is your typical japan apologist red herring argument. What does this have to do with anything? Thats typical backstabbing 101. I don't know how anyone can find such blatant fraud defensible. South Korea has every right not to trust such a dishonest country.

That 's what international/bilateral treaties are for. The treaties covers discussed areas and shouldn't be taken lightly. Countries in Europe and U.S. considers treaties with supremacy clause and it's a duty for each nations to abide the terms of conditions, including South Korea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites,” the Japanese delegation said in a statement.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

“Japan is prepared to take measures that allow an understanding that there were a large number of Koreans and others who were brought against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions in the 1940s at some of the sites,”

And continues,

.."And that during World War II, the government of Japan ALSO implemented its policy of requisition."

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@zichi

Again, you've got to remember the time and context.

Everyone in Japan was "forced" to work at the time, and throughout the rapid 'catchup' period. (They still are at rates Americans or European was revolt at!).

I imagine the Germans in England were rather glad to be out of the firing zone and acted honorable. Asia was in a different state of evolution at the time.

Actually, if you knew your history, you'd know Japan tried that "by the rules" approach during the war with Russia. It ended up being swamped by Russians who wanted to surrender after news swept through the ranks that Russian soldiers were being taken to Matsuyama and allowed to spend their days wandering around Dogo and visit the onsen there.

How would that have worked with Chinese? China could have won the war by just swamping Japan with "surrendering" soldiers.

Honestly, you people are so funny at time. 90% of the Chinese and 100% of the Korean peasantry would have "surrendered" if they thought it meant sitting on their butts and being fed by the Japanese army for the period of the war.

You seem to forget Japan could not even feed the Japanese at the time.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

You seem to forget Japan could not even feed the Japanese at the time.

That's wasn't true until the end of the war and imperial Japan raged hostile wars across Asia but the point in the post, there were forced labor so's maybe you should just stop trying to find accuses for single bad event.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No need to judge what happened at those historic sites with current hindsight. History keeps moving and generations have changed as have the entire world environment.

The key is what have we learned and what that site represents and will contribute "positively" for our future consideration and actions.

Is that not the reason for all this?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi, you forgot domestic production PLUS the rice they confiscated from few Korean owned farms in Korea as well as production from Japanese owned farms in Korea using Korean labour with slave wages (while Japanese plantation owners got fat and rich).

That 's what international/bilateral treaties are for. The treaties covers discussed areas and shouldn't be taken lightly. Countries in Europe and U.S. considers treaties with supremacy clause and it's a duty for each nations to abide the terms of conditions, including South Korea.

So the 1965 Treaty allows Japan to admit to UNESCO that they forced to work the Koreans, but now say there was no forced labour? 1965 Treaty allows Japan blank check to lie that they didn't use any forced labour? Really, what is the 1965 Treaty got to do with what we're talking about?

South Korean government has stuck to the 1965 Treaty and has not demanded Japan compensate the forced labourers. Of course, the Korean government can't stop the Koreans from launching court actions, but the Korean labourers who won the lower court decision in Korea against Mitsubishi and others, were struck down by the South Korean supreme court, citing the 1965 treaty with Japan. So South Korea has stuck with the 1965 treaty, all except for the case of Sex slaves who were not parties to the 1965 treaty.

It is Japan that's going back on its word with Korea, before the UNESCO decision in which Japan agreed with Korea to acknowledge the UNESCO sites used forced labourers.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Whereas both population and life expectancy in Korea double under the Japanese influence, productivity rose between 5 and 10 times - depending on what you measure - and the ability to transport it existed where it did not before.

Therefore we can reasonably state that the population actually significantly benefited under Japanese benefit and there were surpluses over what existed before. Speak to an expert in development studies and ask them how significant a doubling of population and life expectancy is.

The doubling of the population and life expectancy is not the symptom of widespread hardship and abuse. It is the huge, well fed elephant in the room debunking many of your arguments.

Let's shortcut this conversation before the moderators start to censor off topic discussion and summarize what is going on ...

Whatever Japan does for the foreseeable future, until there is regime change in China or Korea evolves further, China and both Koreas are going to try and poop on the party.

It does not matter how benign anything is, how unrelated it is, how ridiculous or non-factual their claims are, China and both Koreas are going to attempt to use the occasion to damage Japan's interests and to damage political and military support for Japan.

That's what it is all about.

Co-incidently, the groups representing the Korean workers have disassociated themselves from the war time prostitutes on the grounds that they know very well what the majority were.

Unfortunately, zichi, you chose just about the worse examples you could - if by "China" you mean Manchuria and if my heading off into the countryside means they indulged in illegal hoarding - to argue the food issue. The surplus of food in Manchuria was specifically exploited to encourage migration from a Japan already suffering hardships and the countryfolk famous for cheating the system.

Thankfully, we don't have to rely on the witness of one family who avoided the war. The records of the institution of nutrition and other department still exist. Rice supplies came under government control in 1939 and rationing of consumer goods began in 1940 (followed rapidly by a blackmarket run in the main by Koreans and Taiwanese gangs).

Records show that the intake of proteins and calories were reduced to 70%s and 60%s of recommended levels. Children's growth was being stunted in comparison to 1930s levels and starvation, not hunger, was widespread; even in the army where it led to lack of discipline.

There's the famous case of Hideshiro Kameo, a patriotic and law abiding professor at the Tokyo Higher School who instructed his wife not to buy anything from the black market, and only take rationed items. Over time, the Kameos became malnourished and bedridden and eventually died of malnutrition. Had his wife bought black market produce, they would have survived.

Should Japanese be concerned if Aso grandfather's conglomerate used forced labourers? I don't know.

Were Americans critical of Roosevelt because his grandfather was an international drug and arms dealer (opium) exploiting and destroying Chinese society?

I tend to think individuals are only responsible for the actions they personally carried out and guilt is not inheritable.

I am not guilty for grandfather's crimes, if he committed any, any more than I can claim merit for his good actions.

You presentation of that scenario is disingenuous. We cannot chose our parents. Children of despots can quite easily turn around and become saints, and vice versa.

That's just a false strategy of guilt by association.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

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