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(2nd LD) Japan's Cabinet approves Sado mine bid for UNESCO heritage

All News 16:47 February 01, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 5, 9-10; ADDS photo)

TOKYO, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- The Japanese government made a Cabinet decision Tuesday to push for the UNESCO World Heritage listing of a former gold mine linked to wartime forced labor, according to local media report.

The diplomatically controversial bid was approved in its Cabinet meeting, Kyodo News said. Tokyo plans to deliver a letter of recommendation to the UNESCO World Heritage Center later in the day.

Last Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans to nominate the mine on Sado Island for the 2023 UNESCO heritage list despite South Korea's strong protest.

The South Korean government immediately expressed "strong regret" over the decision and called in its ambassador to Seoul Koichi Aiboshi to lodge a protest.

The government recently launched a task force involving officials and experts to respond to Tokyo's move, describing it as an attempt "to cause conflicts with member states and politicize UNESCO."

More than a thousand Koreans were forced into hard labor at the mine on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture.

The move is expected to deepen diplomatic rifts between Seoul and Tokyo over shared history.

Many South Koreans believe Japan has yet to apologize sincerely for its atrocities during its 1910-45 colonization of Korea and offer appropriate compensation for victims.

The Sado mine originally operated as a gold mine in the 17th century, but it was turned into a facility to produce war-related materials, such as cooper, iron and zinc, during World War II. It was completely shut down in 1989.

According to historical documents, as many as 2,000 Koreans were forced into hard labor at the mine.

An underground shaft of a former gold and silver mine on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture is seen in this photo taken on Jan. 4, 2021. (Yonhap)


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