July 13, 2021 13:44
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has expressed "strong regret" over Japan's failure to fulfill its promise not to distort the grim wartime history of industrial sites where Korean slave labor was used, the Foreign Ministry here said Monday.
It is unusual for the UN culture body to criticize any country directly over the way they handle their World Heritage sites, especially since Japan is its major donor.
But Japan has ignored UNESCO recommendations for six years running to clearly signpost wartime atrocities it committed at Hashima Island, also known as "Battleship Island," and other Meiji-era industrial heritage sites.
In the face of strong protests from Korea back in 2015, Japan promised to implement UNESCO recommendations to establish an information center and remember the "many Koreans who were mobilized against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions at some of the sites in the 1940s."
But implementation reports since then make no mention of the matter. An information center that opened in Tokyo in June last year displays several exhibits that seem to downplay and distort the history of its atrocities, including false testimonies that the slave laborers were paid and suffered no discrimination.
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