Japanese Authorities Remove Korean Forced Labor Victims’ Memorial

Gunma Prefecture, Japan

A memorial stone honoring Korean victims of wartime forced labor under Japanese rule was dismantled this week in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, despite opposition from activist groups. The removal process, which began on Monday and concluded on Wednesday, was reported by Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

According to Yonhap News Agency, aerial photographs captured the remnants of the memorial's base at the site. The epitaph of the stone, inscribed in Korean, Japanese, and English with the words "Remembrance, Reflection and Friendship," was preserved and handed over to a civic group responsible for the memorial. The stone, erected in 2004, aimed to foster understanding and friendship between Japan and Korea, reflecting on their shared history from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The Gunma Prefecture authorities' decision to disassemble the stone followed a 2014 denial to extend state approval, citing inappropriate remarks by a civic activist. Despite a ruling by Japan's top court in favor of the authorities in 2022, the civic group continues to seek legal avenues to oppose the removal.

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