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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 16 - 22  > Prewar lawyer tells us how to win the trust of neighboring countries
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2014 April 16 - 22 [HISTORY]

Prewar lawyer tells us how to win the trust of neighboring countries

April 22, 2014
Akahata ‘current’ column

Fuse Tatsuji (1880-1953), a Japanese lawyer who put all his energy into protecting human rights, is better known in South Korea than in Japan.

During the era of Japan’s colonial rule over Korea, Fuse sailed to the Korean Peninsula four times and worked hard to defend accused Korean independence activists and to support peasant movements. After his death, Fuse was called a “Japanese Schindler”, and a decade ago the South Korean government decorated him with the national foundation order. On the monument of anti-Japan peasant movements erected in the city of Naju is inscribed his name, “Japanese lawyer, Fuse Tatsuji”.

In the prewar period, some Korean peasant farmers, whose land was forcibly bought up by a Japanese government-controlled company, implored Fuse to help them bring an action to retrieve their land. Responding to those peasants’ letter written in their own blood, the lawyer stood up to save them.

Fuse visited local farmers to prepare to file suit, hiding from the police authorities, and warmly encouraged them. He recognized that Japan’s economic control drove many Korean farmers into desperate poverty, and condemned its colonial rule repeatedly.

A “Fuse Tatsuji exhibition” is now on display at the Korea Museum in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, where hate speech demonstrations took place last year. We are again surprised to see the extent of the lawyer’s dedicated activities, such as accusing Japan’s authorities of the mass-killing of Koreans in chaos following the 1923 Great Tokyo Earthquake as well as defending in court Korean students seeking independence from Japan.

Some South Koreans claimed that conferring the decoration on the Japanese lawyer goes counter to the public feeling against Japan. At the conferment ceremony, however, the then South Korean ambassador told Oishi Susumu, a grandson of Fuse, “A person who loves other peoples can truly love his own people. Fuse is a true Japanese patriot.”

Past related article:
> Hate speeches invited by state shirking responsibility for prewar massacre: lawyer [October 23, 2013]
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