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1 Feb, 2022 06:53

Japan nominates ‘forced labor’ site for UNESCO World Heritage List

South Korea promised to fight Tokyo’s campaign to designate an old gold mine as a world heritage site
Japan nominates ‘forced labor’ site for UNESCO World Heritage List

Tokyo nominated a complex of 400-year-old gold and silver mines on the small island of Sado off Japan’s western coast for the 2023 UNESCO World Heritage List on Tuesday.

“The Sado gold mine is a rare example of industrial heritage that operated continuously on a large scale,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters after the announcement.

However, South Korea has protested against the move, arguing that the mine, completely shut down in 1989, was tied to crimes committed by Tokyo when the whole Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony between 1910 and 1945.

“Our government expresses strong regret over the Japanese government’s decision to push for the Sado mine, where Koreans were forced to labor during World War II, despite our repeated warnings, and we urged it to stop such attempts,” South Korea Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Young-sam said in a statement on Friday. Choi said Seoul will “mobilize various diplomatic channels” to fight Japan on the matter.

Matsuno said on Tuesday that Japan will “engage in dialogue with South Korea and other nations calmly and politely so the value of the site as a cultural asset will be recognized.”

As many as 2,000 Koreans were forced to work at the mine, according to Yonhap news agency.