South Korea Seeks Diplomatic Resolution Over Removal of Forced Labor Memorial in Japan

SEOUL — South Korea expressed its desire for a peaceful resolution concerning the removal of a memorial stone dedicated to Korean victims of Japanese wartime forced labor, which began on Monday in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, Japan. This development follows a decision by a Japanese local government, reported by Japanese media, to dismantle the memorial in a public park, with the process expected to conclude by February 11.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the country hopes the issue can be resolved in a manner that preserves the friendly relations between South Korea and Japan. The memorial stone, erected in 2004 by a civic group in Japan, aimed to foster understanding of the shared historical experiences stemming from Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and to celebrate the friendship between the two nations. However, Gunma Prefecture declined to renew the state approval for the stone's placement in 2014, citing inappropriate comments made about the forced labor victims by a civic activist during a memorial event in 2012. Although Japan's top court ruled in favor of Gunma authorities in 2022, the civic group has initiated separate legal actions in an attempt to halt the removal.

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