Ministry protests sites of servitude

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Ministry protests sites of servitude

A group of industrial facilities that Tokyo is pushing to put on the Unesco World Heritage list conscripted nearly 60,000 Koreans during Japan’s colonial rule, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Korean Foreign Ministry on Friday expressed to a special parliamentary committee, dedicated to resolving the distortion of history in Northeast Asia, its concerns about Tokyo’s move to register a group of more than 20 industrial sites on the Unesco World Heritage list.

The ministry said that seven of the facilities included in the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Kyushu-Yamaguchi and Related Areas” were constructed using the conscripted labor of 57,900 Koreans during Japanese colonial rule (1910-45).

Tokyo claims that these sites have played an important role in its industrialization.

The Foreign Ministry reported, “Registering facilities clouded with the painful history for our people of forcible drafting during the Japanese occupation goes against the fundamental principle of the World Heritage Convention, which values humanity universally.”

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a Paris-based NGO, has been reviewing Japan’s proposal and is expected to provide its recommendations to the World Heritage Committee in May.

A final decision is expected to be made by July from the committee, which decides on the sites to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

The ministry added that Seoul will raise this issue during the 39th World Heritage Committee, held in Bonn, Germany, from June 28 to July 8.

Through various diplomatic channels, the Foreign Ministry said it will cooperate with the 21 member states of the committee, which include Japan and Korea.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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