SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — A South Korean nongovernmental organization said Thursday it will begin a campaign against Japan over its latest refusal to recognize the existence of forced labor at some of its past industrial complexes listed as world heritage sites.
In 2015, Japan promised to acknowledge and commemorate Korean victims of forced labor when 23 Meiji-era industrial locations were listed as World Cultural Heritage sites.
Its latest report on follow-up steps, published Monday on the U.N. agency’s website, had no reference to such efforts.
The Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), which promotes South Korea’s history and culture overseas, said it will send letters to national representatives on UNESCO committees to condemn Japan’s failure to fulfill its pledge to the international community.
The group also plans to post its protest soon on Change.org, the world’s largest online petition platform.
On Tuesday, Seoul’s foreign ministry expressed regrets about Japan’s report to UNESCO.
“The government urges Japan to faithfully carry out follow-up steps to commemorate the victims of forced labor in line with the World Heritage Committee’s recommendation and its pledge before the international community,” it said.
The Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution include Hashima Island off the southwestern city of Nagasaki. Historians say many Koreans were forced to work at mines on Hashima Island, known as Battleship Island, during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.
In its previous report in 2017, Japan claimed that “those hailing from Korea” provided “support” for Japan’s industry.