Intellectuals’ group says annexation was invalid

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Intellectuals’ group says annexation was invalid

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Haruki Wada, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, releases the joint declaration that states that Japan’s annexation of Korea 100 years ago was null and void. A group of 105 Japanese and 109 Korean intellectuals endorsed the four-page statement, which defined the annexation as “unjust and illegal.” By Park So-young


Academics, writers and attorneys from Korea and Japan yesterday issued a joint declaration in their respective capital cities saying that Japan’s annexation of Korea 100 years ago was null and void.

The group of 105 Japanese and 109 Koreans released their four-page statement, which called the annexation an “act of imperialism realized through military force that pushed away all protests, including one staged by the Emperor of Korea.” The statement also defined the annexation as “unjust and illegal.”

“The preamble of the [annexation] treaty was all false, as was the entire text of the treaty,” the statement read. “There were major flaws to the process leading up to signing of the treaty, and also to the format of the treaty.”

The intellectuals’ statement defied the Japanese government’s interpretation of the 1910 annexation treaty.

The Treaty of Basic Relations between the two countries, reached in 1965, notes that “all treaties or agreements concluded between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Korea on or before Aug. 22, 1910, are already null and void.”

But Japan has continued to argue that the annexation treaty was valid because the two sides signed it on an equal footing.

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Yi Tae-jin, a professor emeritus at Seoul National University, reads the same declaration yesterday at the Korea Press Center in Seoul. [YONHAP]

Korea has countered that the treaty was a legacy of Japan’s aggressive imperialism and was null and void from its inception.

The statement claimed that “the Korean interpretation of the treaty shall be accepted as the common interpretation” for both countries.

“At the 100th anniversary of the annexation, we share these common views of history,” the statement read. “Based on the shared ideas, we should be able to address many historical problems between Korea and Japan. Further steps must be taken for reconciliation.”

The intellectuals also urged their respective governments to issue a joint statement to address the validity of the annexation treaty.

The statement also dealt with Korean “comfort women,” virtual sex slaves who were abused by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The intellectuals said compensation for these women has not been addressed, and they also urged the Japanese government to compensate forced laborers and soldiers.

Work on the statement began last December. Participating scholars said they went through five different drafts before they agreed to the final version, and some wording provoked heated arguments from both sides.

“Putting in the word ‘illegal’ was one of the most challenging processes,” said Kim Young-ho, president of Yuhan College in Korea. “I understand our Japanese counterparts tried hard to keep it in the statement.”

Hiroshi Miyajima, a professor at the University of Tokyo who attended the press conference in Seoul, said he felt Japan “had to do something” in the 100th year since annexation.

“Japan should view its own modern history with more objectivity and face up to its mistakes,” Miyajima said.

The Korean group included poet Ko Un, lawyer Park Won-soon and Seoul National University professor emeritus Lee Tae-jin.

Japan was represented by University of Tokyo professor emeritus Haruki Wada and Nobel Prize-winning writer Kenzaburo Oe.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

日 교수도 `다양한 기획 준비중`


김영호 유한대 총장은 10일 "한일 병합 조약 무효 지식인 선언을 계속 확대하도록 하겠다"고 밝혔다.

김 총장은 이날 서울 프레스센터에서 열린 '韓日병합조약 무효 한ㆍ일 지식인 공동 선언 발표' 기자회견에서 "일본 측이 이번 선언에 참여하지 못한 분들은 2차, 3차 선언에서 함께 할 수 있도록 노력하겠다고 전해왔다. 우리도 500명 선까지 선언 참가자를 늘릴 수 있도록 노력하겠다"며 이같이 말했다.

그는 "특히 성명서에 '불법'이라는 표현을 명시하는 것이 대단히 어려운 과정 중의 하나였다. 이 부분을 넣고자 일본 관계자들도 많은 노력을 기울인 것으로 알고 있다"고 전했다.

이날 참석한 미야지마 히로시(官嶋博史) 도쿄대 교수는 "병합 100주년을 맞아 올해 일본에서도 뭔가 해야겠다는 생각으로 성명에 참가했다. 일본도 근대 일본의 역사를 객관적으로 보고 잘못된 부분을 직시하면서 미래를 생각해야 한다"고 말했다.
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