The Korea Herald


S. Korea requests Japan provide passenger list of deadly Ukishima Maru ship sinking: report

By Yonhap

Published : June 22, 2024 - 13:34

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This undated file photo provided by South Korean film company Mayplus shows the Ukishima Maru vessel. (Mayplus) This undated file photo provided by South Korean film company Mayplus shows the Ukishima Maru vessel. (Mayplus)

South Korea has requested Japan provide it with the passenger list from a controversial 1945 deadly explosion and sinking of a Japanese vessel known to have killed thousands of Koreans aboard, a news report said Saturday.

South Korea's Ministry of Interior and Safety, responsible for the case, made the request for the relevant materials through its foreign ministry, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported.

The Ukishima Maru, which had belonged to the Japanese Navy, was transporting Koreans, many of whom were forcibly mobilized for labor during wartime, back to their homeland in the wake of the end of World War II, as Korea was liberated from Japan's colonial rule.

The ship had departed from a port in the Aomori Prefecture on Aug. 22 and was to make a port call in Kyoto two days later, but an explosion occurred in the lower part of the hull and it sank in the waters.

Japan announced that the ship hit an underwater mine and 524 out of 3,700 passengers were killed in what it called an accident.

But the bereaved family members of the Korean victims claim more than 3,000 lost their lives, out of as many as 8,000 people aboard, and have charged that Japan intentionally blew up the ship.

Japan, for many years, did not acknowledge the existence of the passenger list, insisting that it was lost in the sinking. But in May, it revealed during a lower house session that there are approximately 70 documents tagged as "passenger lists and related records."

The controversy has grown as Tokyo has done little to salvage the ship or recover the remains of the victims.

Survivors and bereaved family members filed a lawsuit in Japan in 1992, accusing the Japanese government of neglecting safety management obligations, but they ultimately lost the case in 2004.