By Kim Hyo-jin

German and Japanese civic groups plan to hold candlelight vigils in Germany in May to condemn Japanese leaders’ previous visits and prevent future visits to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine.

“We will hold candlelight vigils with German and Japanese civic groups in Berlin on May 7 and in Heidelberg on May 10,” said the Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities (IRCA), a civic organization studying modern history of Korea, Monday.

“They aim to raise awareness of Japan’s revisionist movement throughout the world,” said IRCA’s International Cooperation Team director Kim Yeong-hwan. He said the events will take place in time for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Since it was established in 2006, the IRCA has held annual protests over Japanese politicians’ visits to the Yasukuni shrine every year in Tokyo.

The Germany rally has been organized on the suggestion of Berlin-based civic group Korea Verband. It will be the first rally in Europe condemning Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Yaskuni Shrine visit in 2013, the IRCA said.

The IRCA’s director said Germany is the best place to build a sense of solidarity against Japan’s revisionist moves.

“Post-war Germany is respected by the international community as it faces its past squarely and apologizes for its wrongdoings,” Kim said. “We believe holding a rally there will better appeal to the international community. ”

The civic group director said Abe’s move is not just a Northeast Asia-related matter”Abe’s visit to the Yaskuni Shrine is linked with his attempt to bring militarization back to the country and pave the way to have self-defense forces, which breaks Japan’s postwar commitment to the world,” he said.

Abe has continuedhis push to revise Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution that renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining readiness to go to war The move has triggered opposition both at home and abroad.

The IRCA plans to distribute video clips and booklets about Japan’s wartime atrocities, such as the issue of forcibly conscripted comfort women and forcibly drafted laborers during World War II. They include victims’ comments on their painful experiences.

The civic group will deliver the video clip to UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee Head Maria Bohmer in Germany.

The meeting aims to express its opposition to the possible listing of a group of Japanese industrial facilities on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Japanese government has sought Meiji Industrial sites, where tens of thousands of Koreans were forced to work under Japanese rule in the early 1900s, to be recognized as intangible cultural assets.

SOURCE: The Korea Times