Appeal from the victims against the inscription of the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” on UNESCO World Heritage Sites“Please remember our blood, sweat and tears!”
We pay our respects to all of you who strive to protect the precious cultural assets of humankind through their inscription as World Heritage Sites.
We are the victims of the Japanese imperial invasion who were forcibly mobilized from Korea, a colony of Japan at the time, to the Japanese mainland where we were forced to toil in slavery. We were taken away at ages ranging from our teens to early twenties, without knowing where we were going and even if we would be permitted to go home. In a faraway land, suffering from harsh labor and pains of hunger, we could do nothing but shed tears every night as visions of our hometowns flashed before our eyes. Even after 70 years, the memory of the days suffered at that time is as painful as if they had taken place yesterday.
Now, the Japanese government is promoting locations such as the Hashima Coal Mine, Mitsubishi Shipyard and Yahata Steel Works to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This we cannot accept. These companies forcibly took us away from colonial Korea to support the war of aggression and forced us to work like slaves, and in spite of this they have never uttered a single word of apology and have refused all compensation. We have been in litigation with these companies for the past 15 years, but instead of showing remorse they continue to delay the trials with one excuse after another, in the hope that old age will deal with us first. These war criminal enterprises do not deserve praise for being companies that made the Industrial Revolution happen; rather, they deserve the world's scorn for their war crimes and violations of human rights.
The Japanese government is limiting the Sites to the industrial heritage of the Meiji era as an expedient as they conceal the facts of forced labor in order to hide their war crimes and violations of human rights. But what enrages us all the more is knowing that they are using these expedients in order to erase the history of forced labor that was inflicted upon us. It is beyond absurd that only the outer packaging of the heritage of the Industrial Revolution is being put forth while a blind eye is being turned to the blood, sweat and tears of the victims of forced mobilization.
In addition, the Japanese government is distorting the history of the wars of aggression it committed despite worldwide criticism, and is moving back toward becoming a state capable of waging war. We cannot but suspect that the listing as World Heritage is being used as a method to cover up its past mistakes. One must remember the large quantity of unresolved issues that still remain even now, 70 years after the war. We ourselves testify to that history. It is time for the Japanese government and these war criminal enterprises to reflect on the mistakes of the past, apologize to us, and provide compensation.
We once again make our plea: please do not allow the facilities of war criminal enterprises to become World Heritage Sites. Please remember our blood, sweat, and tears.
June 12, 2015
The Victims of Forced Mobilization by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and Mitsubishi Volunteer Corps* Suit against the plaintiff Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal for damages from forced mobilization1st lawsuit (submitted 2005.2.28)
Lee, Chun Sik
Kim, Gyu Soo2nd lawsuit (submitted 2013.3.11)
Gwak, Hae Kyung
Kim, Gwang Cheol
Lee, Sang Ju
Lee, Yun Tae
Jang, Hak Jun
Ju, Seok Bong
Choi, Yeong Bae* Suit against the plaintiff Mitsubishi Volunteer Corps for damages from forced mobilization1st lawsuit (submitted 2014.2.27)
Yang, Geum Deok
Lee, Dong Ryeon
Park, Hae Ok
Kim, Seong Ju
Kim, Jung Gon2nd lawsuit (submitted 2013.7.1)
Kim, Jae Rim
Oh, Cheol Seok
Yang, Yeong Su
Sim, Seon Ae