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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 August 30 - September 5  > 1923 massacre of Koreans was due to groundless rumors spread by gov’t
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2017 August 30 - September 5 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

1923 massacre of Koreans was due to groundless rumors spread by gov’t

September 2, 2017
Liberal Democratic Party member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Koga Toshiaki at a March session of the assembly insisted that the massacre of Koreans following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake had taken place for “defensive purposes” and that the number of Korean victims claimed has little foundation in fact. Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko also declared that she will not send a message of condolence as annually done by successive governors to the memorial service for the Korean victims.

Akahata on September 2 reported on the major cause and the truth behind the 1923 slaughter of Korean residents.

On September 1 of 1923, a big quake hit the Kanto region, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. Later on the day, groundless rumors such as “Socialists and Koreans are setting fires” spread around the city of Tokyo. On the morning of September 3, the Home Ministry sent a telegram addressed to all prefectural governors in Japan, which states, “Koreans are setting fires around the city and are engaged in criminal acts. In Tokyo, some even have explosives. Strict crackdowns should be taken.” In response to this, vigilante organizations were formed across the region, resulting in the killings of innocent Koreans.

However, in November of the same year, the Department of Justice issued an investigative report which denied the wrongdoings as mentioned in the Home Ministry telegram. According to the Department of Justice report, there were five murder and injury cases involving Korean residents but all suspects were unknown. Furthermore, the report said that there had been no uprising, acts of arson, or acts of pouring poison into wells or waterways by Koreans.

In fact, the Cabinet Office in 2008 compiled a report citing that the mass killing of the Koreans had stemmed from the fear which the Japanese people had over Korean resistance movements opposing Japan’s colonial rule in Korea. This report also singles out Japanese people’s attitude of discrimination and their lack of understanding of Koreans as the background behind the 1923 massacre. It concluded that Japan needs to reflect on this fact.

Recent research suggests that several thousand Koreans were killed. However, the exact figure is still unknown.

Professor at Senshu University Tanaka Masataka said that the absence of exact figures is because the imperial government at that time tried to conceal the fact that a slaughter occurred and because successive governments have neglected to carry out an investigation into the exact numbers of the victims.

Tanaka criticized postwar governments for failing to conduct necessary investigations by saying, “I think some people intentionally use the lack of official documentation of the number of the victims as a way to deny the massacre itself. I therefore must say that these people are trying to cover up the historical fact that a slaughter of Koreans took place.”

Past related article:
> Tokyo Governor decides not to send annual condolences to Korean victims of 1923 quake [August 25, 2017]
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