Ex-Japanese PM Donates Money to Colonial Prison

      August 19, 2015 12:14

      Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pays his respects at the Seodaemun Prison in Seoul last Wednesday.

      Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made a donation of 30,000 yen when he visited the Seodaemun Prison, where Korean independence fighters were jailed and tortured by Japanese colonial authorities.

      Hatoyama donated the money through former lawmaker Lee Bu-young.

      Officials at the Seodaemun district office, which operates the former prison, handed over the money to a group that honors independence fighter Yu Gwan-sun, who was imprisoned there.

      A Seodaemun official said, "It's not a huge amount of money, but we could sense the genuine feelings of the former prime minister, who visited the prison to deliver an apology. We felt the money should go to those who keep the memory of Yu Gwan-sun alive."

      Hatoyama, who visited Korea last week for a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, spent about 40 minutes touring the jail.

      At one point, Hatoyama knelt and paid his respect to those who were killed by Japanese police during the occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. The last Japanese leader to visit the prison was then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2001.

      Last year, 607,000 people visited the museum, 6.8 percent of them Japanese.

      A Seodaemun official said, "A lot of Japanese visit the prison out of a sense of guilt and because they want to apologize. It looks like more Japanese are coming since Hatoyama's visit."

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