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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 August 23 - 29  > Gov’t should fully investigate and offer formal apology for 1923 Korean massacre
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2023 August 23 - 29 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Gov’t should fully investigate and offer formal apology for 1923 Korean massacre

August 29, 2023

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

September 1 marks 100 years since a massive quake hit the Kanto region in 1923 and killed more than 100,000 people. It must not be forgotten that in the wake of the quake, due to wide-spread groundless rumors such as “Koreans set fires and instigated riots”, many Koreans and Chinese were unjustly slaughtered across the region by the Imperial Japanese military, police officers, and vigilantes. The Japanese government should investigate the incident which constitutes a grave violation of human rights, disclose the findings, and offer a formal apology for the 1923 Kanto Massacre.

A Korean organization’s data indicates that the number of Koreans killed in the incident topped 6,000. In addition, it is believed that more than 700 Chinese were killed.

In the aftermath of the major quake on September 1, 1923, the imperial government imposed martial law in Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba under the pretext of protecting quake victims from lawless acts, and strengthened military and police activities to maintain the public order. Two days later, 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. Some even have explosives. Strict crackdowns should be taken.” This helped spread unfounded rumors, leading the military and vigilantes to commit the massacre.

Postwar Japanese governments have refused to conduct a full-scale investigation into the mass killings and failed to offer a formal apology and pay compensation to the survivors and bereaved families. In 2017, Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko announced her decision to stop sending messages of condolence as annually done by successive governors to the memorial service for the victims which the Niccho-Kyokai, a Japan-Korea friendship association, and other civil groups hold on September 1. The central and Tokyo governments’ reluctance to face up to historical fact has contributed to allowing the denial of the 1923 massacre and the continuance of anti-Korean hate speech and hate crimes. Governor Koike should retract her decision.

The Japanese government in the 1998 Japan-ROK Partnership Declaration expressed ‘deep remorse and heartfelt apology' for its past colonial rule over the Korean Penisula and agreed with South Korea that it is important for the peoples of both countries, the younger generations in particular, to deepen their understanding of their shared history. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in March expressed his intent to support this declaration. The need is for the government to commence a probe into the 1923 Korean massacre, formally apologize for the incident, and provide compensation for the massacre survivors and bereaved families of those murdered.

Past related articles:
> Tamura in Gwangbokjeol ceremony calls on Tokyo Gov. to send eulogy to 1923 Korean massacre memorial service [August 16, 2023]
> 1923 massacre of Koreans was due to groundless rumors spread by gov’t [September 2, 2017]

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