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Seoul investigating reported cover-up over artifacts by Japan

All Headlines 17:11 July 29, 2014

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is trying to verify a news report that Japan covered up the extent of its possession of South Korean cultural assets stolen during its colonial rule of the peninsula about a half-century ago, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

A recent court ruling in Japan was reported to have shown that Japan did not fully disclose its list of cultural assets taken from South Korea when Tokyo held negotiations to normalize diplomatic ties with Seoul in the 1960s. Japan ruled the peninsula from 1910-1945.

Japan returned only some of the South Korean cultural assets in its possession under a sub-treaty on cultural asset repatriation, signed as part of the South Korea-Japan treaty forged in 1965 to reestablish their bilateral ties.

Many much-worthier cultural assets were left in Japan and the full list has not been disclosed to the public out of fear Seoul may demand their return, the court record indicated.

"The foreign ministry is currently verifying the facts," foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kawng-il said in a briefing.

"The South Korean government is paying attention to the recent ruling," the spokesman said, adding that "the cultural asset repatriation issue needs a review of whether they were illegally taken out of the country, and through what routes, as well as a review of bilateral and multilateral treaties in terms of international law," Noh noted.

"Our government will make utmost diplomatic efforts to bring back our cultural properties illegally taken out of the country," he said.


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