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(LEAD) S. Korean FM protests against Japan's Sado mine UNESCO bid in phone call with counterpart

All News 16:43 February 03, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, background in paras 5-7; ADDS photo)
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top diplomat lodged a protest Thursday against Tokyo's push to get the Sado mine, linked with wartime forced labor, listed as UNESCO world heritage during the first phone call with his Japanese counterpart, according to Seoul's foreign ministry.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong had talks with his Japanese counterpart Hayashi Yoshimasa and voiced "deep disappointment" over Tokyo's decision to recommend the former gold and silver mine as UNESCO World Heritage despite "its painful history related to forced labor of Koreans," the ministry said in a press release. More than 1,000 Koreans were forced into hard labor there when their country was under the brutal colonization from 1910-45.

Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi arrives at the South Korean foreign ministry office building in central Seoul on Jan. 28. The ministry called him in to lodge a protest over Tokyo's decision to recommend a former gold mine, where Koreans were forced into harsh labor during Japan's colonial rule, as a candidate for a UNESCO World Heritage site. (Yonhap)

Chung urged Japan to fulfill its pledge to offer full public information on the forced labor of Koreans at its existing UNESCO heritage sites.

Upon the 2015 designation of 23 Meiji-era sites, including the famous Hashima Island, Tokyo promised to install an information center on the matter, but it has only highlighted the achievements of Japan's industrial revolution.

On Friday, a new South Korean government-private task force will hold its first meeting to discuss "systematic" and "comprehensive" measures against another round of Japan's controversial UNESCO heritage bid.

The team is composed of senior officials from related ministries and agencies as well as historians and experts in the field to wage a diplomatic campaign against Japan's UNESCO bid.

A UNESCO advisory body is expected to inspect the mine site in fall and decide around May next year whether to add it to the list.

During the phone talks, Chung also called on the minister to take a more active approach to come up with appropriate measures over forced labor and "comfort women" in order to resolve prolonged disputes between the neighboring countries over shared history.

Meanwhile, the ministers expressed "deep concern and regret" over North Korea's intermediate-range missile launch last weekend, the ministry said.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
(END)

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