The Korea Herald


Bereaved families to set up association about 1923 massacre of Koreans in Japan

By Yonhap

Published : Aug. 21, 2017 - 11:18

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Relatives of the victims of a massacre in Japan more than 90 years ago will launch an association next week to urge Seoul and Tokyo to shed light on an incident of Koreans killed in the turmoil after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake and compensation be offered to them, a Korean-Japanese filmmaker said Monday.

Oh Choong-kong, who has produced documentaries on the massacre, said the bereaved families are scheduled to hold a ceremony at the state-run National Memorial Museum of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Occupation in the southeastern city of Busan on Aug. 30 to mark the formation of the association.

It marks the first time for an association of bereaved families of the massacre to be established, although there are associations of bereaved families of victims of Japan's wartime sex slavery and forced labor, and the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

People carry a traditional Korean wooden bier, called People carry a traditional Korean wooden bier, called "sangyeo," and march down a street in downtown Seoul in this file photo dated Aug. 20, 2016, as they take part in a memorial service to mourn Koreans killed in the turmoil after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. (Yonhap)

In the 1923 massacre that followed the Great Kanto Earthquake, which flattened Tokyo, Yokohama and surrounding prefectures, more than 105,000 people died or went missing with 1-7 percent of them believed to have been killed.

Koreans topped the list of people killed. While Chinese and Japanese people were also killed, their numbers were much smaller.

Historians say up to 6,000 Koreans were killed in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.9 earthquake. The massacre began when the Japanese government spread rumors of a planned riot by Koreans in a scheme to divert public attention from social unrest.

In the morning of Aug. 30, the families will also hold a memorial service to pay tribute to the victims at a former port in the city where they left for Japan after Korea was under Japan's colonial rule in 1910.

The bereaved family group comprises only seven families of the victims, as most of families of them are not believed to know about their involvement in the incident due to the lack of research and proper investigation into the incident.

Prior to the association's launch, a South Korea-Japan civic group will hold a memorial service in Seoul on Friday, where a preview of "The 1923 Genocide: The Silence of 93 Years," the third documentary on the issue being made by Oh, will be shown.

Kim Jong-soo, a pastor who leads the civic group, called for the government to set up a body tasked with investigating the massacre or cooperating with civic bodies in a probe into it.

In 2014, 103 ruling and opposition lawmakers proposed a bill on the establishment of a committee to shine light on the massacre, but the bill was not passed. (Yonhap)