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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 November 27 - December 3  > Civil group in Mie strives to recollect wartime Korean forced labor in local mine
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2019 November 27 - December 3 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Civil group in Mie strives to recollect wartime Korean forced labor in local mine

November 27, 2019

A civil organization in Kumano City in Mie Prefecture has been working to not forget the history of Korean forced labor used in a local mine during the war through various activities, including building a monument and holding rallies.

The Kishu Mine was opened in Kiwa Town in the city by Osaka-based Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, LTD. in 1939 and closed in 1978.

The civil group, composed of Korean residents in Japan, local people, and their supporters, have collected materials regarding the use of Korean forced laborers in the Kishu Mine. They are, for example, investigation reports and records of work-related fatalities submitted by Ishihara Sangyo to the Welfare Ministry after the war and the data compiled by the Mie prefectural government on how many Korean workers were used by each company during the war. These materials revealed that between 1940 and 1945, more than 1,300 Koreans were brought to Japan to work as forced laborers in the Kishu Mine.

Based on the collected materials, the group carried out investigations, including interviews with old residents in the town on the matter and repeated visits to South Korea for on-site surveys. In a study-trip to South Korea, civil group members obtained testimonies from survivors, bereaved families of wartime forced laborers in Japan, and other people involved this issue. Their testimonies assert: “Many of the 1,300 Koreans received no wage”, “Koreans were forced to work under harsh working conditions and allowed to take a day off only once a month”, and “Japanese military personnel were attached to accommodations for Korean laborers.”

At the site of the former ore dressing plant at the mine, there is a Kumano City-run museum. It, however, displays no material regarding the fact that Koreans were carted off to the mine as forced laborers. In response to the civil group’s request for the display of forced labor-related materials, the city education board said that it is difficult to do so because the museum has nothing documenting the use of Korean forced laborers.

The civil group in 2010 established a monument near the museum to remember 35 Korean victims of Japan’s forced labor and placed stones on which the names of the 35 victims are carved. According to the group, among the 35 victims, there are some whose real names are unknown because they were forced to change their names to Japanese ones.

The civil group and the prefectural organizations of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chosen Soren) and Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) hold a memorial event every year in front of the monument.

A representative of the civil group said, “We will continue holding the event with the aim of increasing residents’ awareness of the history of forced labor in the Kishu Mine.”
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