Japan Fights Rearguard Campaign Over Forced Labor

  • By Lim Min-hyuk

    July 08, 2015 13:11

    Japan has embarked on a rearguard campaign to publicize its views about forced labor at Japanese industrial sites newly included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

    Japan's Kyodo News on Tuesday said Tokyo wants broad publicity for its claim that there is a difference between people being "forced to work" at the sites, as it has admitted, and forced labor.

    Tokyo is trying to claim that the mobilization of Koreans during the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945 did not constitute forced labor under the International Labour Organization's regulations.

    On Sunday, Kuni Sato, Japan's ambassador to UNESCO, told the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, "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."

    Korea welcomed the statement and all seemed in order -- for one day.

    But on Monday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida made the startling claim that being "forced to work" does not signify forced labor, and things were back in disarray.

    In response, the Foreign Ministry here posted the statement on its own website and also posted a video clip of the Japanese ambassador admitting the sites' history of forced labor to the UNESCO committee.

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