South Korea prods Japan to acknowledge forced labour on Hashima Island, other Unesco-listed sites

The Hashima coal mine, known as "Battleship Island" in Nagasaki prefecture, Japan's southern island of Kyushu.
The Hashima coal mine, known as "Battleship Island" in Nagasaki prefecture, Japan's southern island of Kyushu.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - South Korea has prodded Japan to acknowledge the country's forced mobilisation of Koreans at several Unesco-listed world heritage sites in Japan, including Hashima Island, in the latest session of the United Nations body for culture and education, South Korea's foreign ministry said Thursday (July 13).

During the 41st session of Unesco's World Heritage Committee held in Krakow, Poland from July 2 to 12, South Korea's ambassador to Unesco Lee Byong Hyun issued a call on Japan to implement its pledge that the country made before Unesco bestowed world heritage site status to some Japanese industrial sites two years ago.

Seven of the 23 Japanese modern industrial locations Unesco chose as world heritage sites in July 2015 were involved in Japan's mobilisation of forced labour from Korea, then under Japan's colonial control, and other Asian countries before and during World War II.

The seven sites include Hashima, an outlying island abandoned by Japan off the coast of Nagasaki.

It is also known as Battleship Island or Gunhamdo in Korean, once a densely populated coal-mining site.

Japan has vowed to take measures to acknowledge and commemorate the forced labour victims, but no action has been taken yet.

In the session, Japanese ambassador to Unesco Kuni Sato reaffirmed the country's pledge at that time, unveiling plans to set up a relevant information centre on implementation of the pledge, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, adding that 12 countries of the committee's 21 member nations came out in support of South Korea.