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News Gunma governor removing Korean forced labourer monument


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Gunma governor and LDP member Yamamoto Ichita insists on removing a monument dedicated to forced Korean labourers in a prefectural park in Takasaki, claiming legalistic reasons. Yamamoto stated at a press conference held on 25 January that they had carefully negotiated and coordinated with the citizens' group that set up the monument and had proposed an alternative site. However, they could not get their approval. Yamamoto further added that since Japan is a nation governed by the rule of law, they had no choice but to carry out the removal of the monument.

The monument commemorates Koreans who were mobilized for labour during the Pacific War and died in Gunma Prefecture. According to the prefecture, this is the first time that administrative subrogation is being carried out in an urban park in the prefecture.


Photo credit: Mainichi

The citizens' group obtained permission from the prefectural government to install the monument in 2004. However, in 2014, the prefectural government refused to renew the permit on the grounds that it was in violation of the condition that the group would not hold political events, after an attendee at a memorial ceremony held by the group used words such as "forced mobilization." In June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the prefecture in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the prefectural government's decision not to grant the permit. Gov. Yamamoto also responded to criticism that the removal of the monument might encourage hate speech and historical revisionism, saying, "It is not a matter of historical awareness, but rather the fact that a rule that had been set in the first place was broken. The removal is not connected to the twisting of history." He then restated his recognition that there is no problem with the content of the inscription itself, which reads "Remembrance, Reflection and Friendship."

Meanwhile, Ryoichi Hattori, secretary general of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), requested Gov. Yamamoto to suspend the administrative subrogation on 25 January. Hattori recognized that this issue should be tackled in a bipartisan manner in the Diet, saying, "It could have a negative impact both domestically and internationally. If public opinion in South Korea reacts against the move, it could also damage national interests."

The Sankei Shimbun.
It is one year from the Supreme Court decision.
I have a meeting in front of a forest, a Korean mourning monument of Gunma by "removal early".
About 40 citizens such as the meeting soft breezes of the Japanese woman had a meeting in front of a prefectural park Korean worker memorial monument of prefecture Takasaki-shi that Gunma and a citizen's group competed for over setting permission to the Supreme Court in "a forest of Gunma" on 16th and they visited the prefectural office of Maebashi-shi on "remove a memorial service monument according to judgment immediately" and a suit, the afternoon of the same day and conveyed a request.

In 2004, a progressive citizen's group receives the setting permission by the prefecture for 10 years, and the memorial monument is installed. "Do not perform a political event"; was with conditions, but a citizen group demanded cancellation of the suppression disposal, and it was suit without admitting by update of the permission saying that the prefecture was against a condition for 26 years because spoke, an attendant "wants to appeal for a fact of the forcible escort" in a memorial service.

The update suppression disposal of the prefecture deviates from discretionary authority and judged the Maebashi District Court judgment of the first trial to be illegal, but the second trial Tokyo High Court cancels "there is the political remark including words called "forcible escort" in a memorial service, and the mourning monument lost neutral character" and indication, the first trial judgment and dismisses request on the citizen group side. On June 16, last year, the Supreme Court dismissed the final appeal of the citizen's group, and High Court judgment was settled.

Yukiko Suzuki, chairperson of soft breeze that chose the day when it was one year from decision of the Supreme Court "say that the people of the meeting protecting a mourning monument in spite of judgment use the mourning monument again. Is Japan not a constitutional state? Besides, the memorial monument produced only division just to always remind of Japan-Korea fights over the compensation and appealed to make neither a Japanese nor the Korean happy.

About 40 people that it gathered from Tokyo and Kanagawa, local Gunma to have participated on that day. The man who participated from the hometown, "however, the record that a victim appeared in Gunma even if checked it did not come out called a memorial service, the mourning by the forcible escort. In this, I am sorry for ancestors. I called, I want you to remove it.

The Asahi Shimbun digital article.
A Korean mourning monument, the park "forest of Gunma" prefecture soon prefectural to removal are execution by proxy policies

A prefectural park of Takasaki-shi, Gunma was the wartime labor mobilization in "a forest of Gunma" and, about the memorial monument of the sacrificed Korean, decided to remove the prefecture by administrative execution by proxy. I close a park from 29th through February 11 and start removal.

Over a monument, judgment to "be legitimate" establishes the disposal of the prefecture of 2014 when I assumed setting suppression in the Supreme Court for 22 years. For the citizen group "meeting which protected the memorial monument of "memory reflection and the friendship" which owned a monument," the prefecture gave a removal order in April, 23. Furthermore, in October, I sent "a warning book" based on the Subrogation of Administrative Acts Act and demanded removal until December 28.

The outskirts of the monument are already cut down so that a heavy industrial machine can be contained. The prospect that the prefecture selects the closure of the forest of Gunma as February 11 from 29th and removes it during this period and constructs. It is said that the notice that wrote down a schedule of the execution by proxy on the meeting side to follow on 19th was sent.

The group of forerunners of "the meeting to follow" erects the memorial monument in April, 04. It was a purpose to pray for peace of Asia and the development of the friendship in mourning a Korean passed away by hard labor or starvation all over the wartime. About the setting of the monument, it was adopted a purpose unanimously in the prefectural assembly at the time, and the prefecture offered a site. The condition, "I did not do a political event" in ten years was on during the permission period.

But expression opened in front of a memorial monument…
The dismantling of the memorial started yesterday.


"By removing the memorial, (the prefectural government) appears to have indicated its intent not to remember what occurred in the past," said a third-generation ethnic Korean woman, 34, who came to see the park on Jan. 29. The memorial was erected by a predecessor of the citizens group on the condition that no religious or political events would be held there. The wording of inscriptions was determined after consultations with the prefectural government and the Foreign Ministry by referencing diplomatic documents. A draft included the phrase "forcible taking away" of Korean labourers, but "mobilization" was used instead. Around 2012, a group called Nihon Josei no Kai Soyokaze began to protest the memorial, describing it as "anti-Japanese." It claimed that political events were being held, saying some participants at commemorations held in front of the memorial said Korean workers were forcibly taken away. The citizens' group that owns the memorial has been organizing commemorations in different locations since 2013. In 2014, the prefectural government said statements made at commemorations in 2005, 2006 and 2012, which included "forcible taking away" and other phrases, amounted to political remarks and violated the conditions for the memorial.

Some information on anti-Korean groups like Nihon Josei no Kai Soyokaze (日本女性の会微風):

Official website of Nihon Josei no Kai Soyokaze:

Gunma Prefecture's resolute stance is amazing no matter how many times I see it. Clean steps. We may be witnessing a turning point where Japanese people are learning their true history.

The South Korean embassy reported that the prefectural government of Gunma declined to meet with them before proceeding with the removal of a memorial honoring Korean wartime laborers. The embassy had sought a meeting with Gunma Gov. Ichita Yamamoto to discuss potential solutions regarding the monument situated in a Takasaki city park. Despite embassy staff visiting the prefectural office a week before the memorial's removal to arrange a meeting, the prefecture responded later, rejecting the request.


Photo credit: Kyodo News

The South Korean embassy reported that the prefectural government of Gunma declined to meet with them before proceeding with the removal of a memorial honoring Korean wartime laborers. The embassy had sought a meeting with Gunma Gov. Ichita Yamamoto to discuss potential solutions regarding the monument situated in a Takasaki city park. Despite embassy staff visiting the prefectural office a week before the memorial's removal to arrange a meeting, the prefecture responded later, rejecting the request.

View attachment 113786
Photo credit: Kyodo News

This is not a good look. Are there plans to relocate to monument or will they try to say "well, since they wouldn't assent to us tearing down the monument there's no plan to rebuild it anywhere."
Maebayashi Akitsugu, a professor of media art at the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences in Ogaki, Gifu, and his team digitally reproduced the memorial for Korean wartime labourers removed by the Gunma prefectural government using AR (augmented reality) technology. Tablet computers and smartphones equipped with a specialized app allow visitors at the former cenotaph site to see the replicated cenotaph mapped onto the landscape. The app's developers said they want visitors to share the notion that eliminating the cenotaph does not mean that history can be erased.

Maebayashi, engaged in activities to create memories from visible places through various media, learned that Gunma Prefecture demolished the monument toward the end of January.

Maebayashi Akitsugu, Gunma Korean War Memorial

Photo credit: Tomoko Takaki via Asahi

Maebayashi asked an acquaintance researcher who is well-versed in virtual techniques to help reproduce the memorial at the site. "I found a type of violence in the fact that the land was quickly cleared as if the cenotaph had never existed," Maebayashi said. "For that reason, I thought it would be best to replicate the memorial on the very location from which it had been removed." Maebayashi also sought the advice of artist Yoshio Shirakawa, who lives in Maebashi, to figure out the dimensions of the structure. Shirakawa also explained how the government decided to get rid of the cenotaph. Maebayashi started working on the project in February. AR technology was suggested, and the developers devised a system to enable iPhones and iPads to show the monument virtually at the now-vacant location. A 360-degree view of the memorial can be seen on the screens, as well as close-ups of a plaque inscribed with the words "Remembrance, Reflection and Friendship."

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