People, Travel

S. Korea Lawmakers Condemn Japan’s UNESCO Bid

S. Korea Lawmakers Condemn Japan’s UNESCO BidS. Korea Lawmakers Condemn Japan’s UNESCO Bid

While the South Korean foreign minister’s visit to Tokyo Sunday may be a sign the two neighbors are working to ease tensions over World War II atrocities, some lawmakers in Seoul continue to take a hard line against Japan.

The most recent bipartisan effort in Seoul’s National Assembly to denounce Japan is a resolution attempting to block Tokyo from adding any sites associated with its militaristic past to the list of World Heritage Cultural Sites.

Lee Won-wook, a member of the National Assembly with the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy Party, sponsored a resolution to denounce and block Japan’s UNESCO application, VOA reported.

He said they define the Japanese government’s attempt to add to UNESCO’s World Heritage List a diplomatic provocation and they strongly condemn it.

UNESCO is expected to render a decision in June on Japan’s request to add 23 historical sites to its World Heritage List. These include coal mines, steel works and shipyards that exemplify how Japan became the first Asian nation to enter the modern industrial age from 1850 to 1910.

South Korea and China objected to Japan’s bid saying that it purposely distorts history after 1910 by ignoring the systematic human rights abuses that occurred at some of these sites during Japan’s military occupation and colonial rule over much of Asia.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry claims that seven of the 23 sites were run as forced labor camps where over 57,000 Koreans worked and 94 workers died during Japan’s occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Lee Yi-jae, a ruling Saenuri Party member of the National Assembly supports the resolution as a means to pressure leaders in Tokyo to face up to their history and make amends for past atrocities and abuse.

He said it is an effort to justify or beautify an ugly past.