80th Anniversary of Great Kanto Earthquake
Koreans Demand Japan Apologize for 1923 Massacre of Koreans
Tokyo Urge to Uncover Truth of Massacre
In a ceremony held in Yokoami Park in Ryogoku, Tokyo, on September 1, officials of Chongryun offer a moment of silent prayer for the victims of the massacre committed against Koreans in Japan following the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred on September 1, 1923.
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the massacre committed by Japanese against Koreans in Japan following the Great Kanto Earthquake which occurred on September 1, 1923, Koreans in Japan held mourning events in memory of the victims of the massacre in various parts of Japan, demanding an official apology and an investigation of the truth about the incident by the Japanese government.
Ceremonies were held in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Gunma Prefecture in memory of the victims of the massacre. The ceremonies demanded that the Japanese government make thorough inquiries into the massacre to shed light to the truth of the incident as well as make an apology and compensation for the slaughter.
Chongryun’s officials and Korean residents in Chiba Prefecture visited the prefectual office building and requested Governor Domoto Akiko to make clear the cause of the massacre, demanding Japan’s state responsibility for the incident and calling for Japan’s official apology and compensation.
Participated in by about 800 Korean youth and students, a mourning ceremony was also held on August 31 in a flood plain along the Arakawa River in Tokyo where the dead bodies of victims of the massacre were buried.
Japanese Lawyers’ Group Calls on Tokyo to Take Responsibility for Killings
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) appealed on August 30 to the Japanese government to prevent a recurrence of the slaughter of thousands of Koreans and other people in 1923 by the Japanese army and vigilante groups following a massive earthquake in the Tokyo area.
In a recommendation submitted to Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, the federation said, “The state should admit its responsibility, apologize to the victims as well as their bereaved families and shed light on the cause of the incident and show the truth by investigating the slaughter in its entirety.” President Motobayashi Toru of JFBA urged the Japanese government to prevent a reoccurrence of such massacre.
A big earthquake struck Tokyo and its surrounding areas at noon, September 1, 1923, registering a magnitude of 7.9 and took a heavy death toll of 140,000. The disaster area was turned into the killing field of Koreans by Japanese authorities and vigilantes groups in a bid to divert public grievance of Japan toward chauvinistic direction.
An estimated 6,000 Koreans and Chinese were killed by vigilantes and military forces apparently acting on the rumor that Koreans poisoned wells, started fires and planned to stage an uprising in the chaotic aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake which flattened the Tokyo metropolitan area.
The federation’s recommendation stems from a human rights complaint it received in 1999 by a 95-year-old Korean woman living in Yokohama.
Mun Mu Son, who was living in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward when the quake hit, is still haunted by horrific memories of her father and friends being murdered and the bodies of slain Koreans lying around, according to the complaint.
Chongryun Issues Appeal
Meanwhile, the Central Headquarters of Chongryun issued an appeal to Korean residents in Japan on September 1, titled, "Never forget the bitter history." Referring to the recommendation submitted to Prime Minister Koizumi by the Japan Federation of Bar Association, an anti-Korea and ultranationalistic atmosphere is being created in Japan by the right wing forces and mass media, misleading public opinion in Japan by fiction and flame-up. The present situation “bears a close resemblance to the situation before and after the massacre,” the appeal said.
There frequently occur acts of violence, abusive words against Korean school students, acts of terrorism by shooting and attempted bombings of buildings and facilities of Chongryun and affiliated organizations, the appeal noted, and said, “We never tolerate such maneuvers.”
Tokyo Gov. Urged to Make Thorough Probe into Massacre of Koreans in 1923 Kanto Quake
The memorial service was held on Sep. 1 at the Magome Cemetary Park in Fynabashi City,Chiba Prefecture to mourn for Korean victims of massacre in 1923 Kanto Earthquake
Korean residents in Kanto area have requested to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to take action over the organized slaughter of resident Koreans during the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, seeking an official apology and an investigation of the truth about the incident by the Japanese government.
The first petition regarding the massacre of Koreans was submitted to the federation when representatives from a Korean body called the Association to Mourn for the Victims of Massacre in the Great Kanto Earthquake visited its office in downtown Tokyo on Aug. 31.
Many facts about the massacre of Koreans in the Kanto area in 1923 revealed only through investigations conducted by Koreans and Japanese researchers. The Japanese government has never made any efforts to probe into the tragedy. It is essential for the government itself to make a thorough probe into the massacre to prevent recurrence of such a tragedy,・said Ri Ha Byong, a representative of the Korean body.
The Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo and its surrounding areas on Sep. 1, 1923, taking a heavy toll of 200,000, and turned the disaster area into a pogrom slaughter of Koreans by Japanese authorities in a bid to divert public grievances toward chauvinistic directions.
An estimated 6,000 Koreans were killed in cold blood in the Kanto area alone in the post-quake chaos. Rumors were deliberately spread by the Japanese authorities to sidetrack public resentment against the authority. Just after the great earthquake, the ruling circles in Japan were most concerned that the earthquake victims might rise against the government authorities, throwing the country into an uncontrollable confusion.
Some rumors blamed the Korean community for planning an uprising against the Japanese authorities, while others alleged that Koreans had poisoned wells.
According to a widely accepted view, the then public peace authorities under the Superintendent-General of the Metropolitan Police, judged that the police force alone would not be able to cope with the situation, and consisted it necessary to declare martial law. They consulted the then Home Minister and ordered police offices in various areas including Tokyo and Yokohama to spread rumors.
A Japanese masses of people, instigated by the rumors, launched an extensive manhunt for Koreans.
Under the martial law, Koreans were manhunted and killed by troops, police and civilian "Vigilante" groups. At the same time, more than 50,000 troops were deployed to set up checkpoints in Tokyo and a large number of Koreans were rounded up. Many Koreans and others who looked like Koreans such as Chinese were among the victims and their dead bodies were thrown onto the heaps of other corpses who died in the earthquake and fire victims, in order to cover up the massacre.
It was not until after the end of World War II that all the details of the massacre came to light through an investigation by Korean and Japanese researchers of official government materials and testimony obtained from witnesses.
The Japanese authorities have tried to distort the fact fearing that their atrocities would be criticized by the world public. Through an investigation into facts about the slaughter, the government should make it clear that it has been shifting the responsibility for it onto ordinary masses and vigilantes,"Yamada Shoji, former professor at Rikkyo University, was quoted as saying by the Japanese daily Asahi Shinbun.
The sense of discrimination against Koreans deeply implanted in the then Japanese minds was mingled with their fear of revenge from despised Koreans, and the rumors intentionally spread by the authorities added fuel to their fear, resulting in the cold-blooded massacre of Koreans.
Seventy-five years after the incident due to the unjustifiable national discriminative policy of the Japanese authorities, the Japanese are not-yet-cured of their superiority complex over other Asian countries, a mentality which derives from the history of Japan's aggression against them.
"At the same time, Japanese people should learn their true history in which Korean people were made victims of the Japanese authorities,"Yamada also commented in the paper.
In the past 75 years, Koreans and good-willed Japanese have built some monuments, mourning for the victims around the Kanto areas, to remember one of the biggest blots in the modern Japanese history.
Marking the 75th anniversary of the tragic incident, memorial services were held in some cities in the Kanto area on Sep. 1, which have been annually held by Japanese and Koreans since decades ago.
"We should tell this tragedy to the younger generation. We pledge not to make the same mistake again,"said a participant in one of the ceremonies.