As Kushibo notes:
If you have been deluded into believing it is only whacky Koreans that have a stick up their arse about Japan, and not the other way around, look again. Japanese nationalists frequently talk up the danger of zainichi Korean restaurants in their midst — especially those associated with “pro-North” organizations because they provide something of a lifeline to their relatives in the DPRK — but this occasionally extends to tourists, especially those on Tsushima.
As evidence, Kushibo points to this stinker in the Japan Times: “Tsushima’s S. Koreans: guests or guerrillas?“
In 2008, 72,349 South Koreans visited the island, thanks to the won’s strength against the yen, before falling to 45,266 in 2009 due to the global economic crisis and the won’s subsequent sharp fall.
Even though these visitors contributed an estimated ¥2.1 billion to the local economy and generated 260 jobs on an island struggling with depopulation, word that a plot next to a Maritime Self-Defense Force facility is occupied by a lodge that houses mostly South Korean fishermen has irked local residents and conservative politicians.
“Although the MSDF says the presence of the lodge does not present any problem with its activities, we feel as if we are being kept under surveillance” by the South Koreans, said Masayoshi Matsui, who heads the local chapter of the Japan Conference, a group of conservatives.
Kept under surveillance!
Anyway, to readers of the Marmot’s Hole, the Korean invasion of Tsushima is old news.
What isn’t old news, though, is this story (Korean) by Jeon Eun-ok on Japan’s Hashima — perhaps better known as Gunkanjima, or “Battleship Island” — which the Japanese are trying to registers, along with other modern industrial heritage sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi — as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jeon’s piece looks at the history of Korean laborers on the island and takes the city of Nagasaki to task for its failure to tell the whole story about the island, a complaint heard elsewhere. When you read something like this, of course, you can see where the complaints might be coming from:
What could have been written in the inscription that would cause someone to act in such a hostile manner bearing a grudge? The original text consisted of two paragraphs. The first said that those honored had made great contributions to the development of the Japanese economy and the promotion of the local community, but that they were unable to deal with the flow of the times and had lowered the curtain on a glittering history lasting over a century. It is the second paragraph that clearly shows Mitsubishi‘s understanding of conscripted labor. The somewhat lengthy paragraph reads as follows.
“We long for the days in which many workers and their families, including people who came from China and the Korean Peninsula, transcended race and nationality to share one heart in tending the flame of coal mining and sharing joy and sorrow together, and we pray for the eternal rest of those who lost their lives during their work or perished on this land by erecting this monument to comfort all their souls.”
When the contents of the inscription became known, ethnic Koreans who had endured harsh treatment at the site during the Japanese Empire were unable to conceal their anger. There was nothing written to indicate that Korean and Chinese workers had been brought there against their will. The people who were brought to the Ghost Islands endured harsh labor, beatings, and punishments, and a number of them died in accidents or from malnutrition. Japanese civic groups protested, charging that expressions such as “sharing joy and sorrow” flew in the face of historical fact, but the company refused to modify the inscription, claiming that it had already passed through prior discussions with the local headquarters of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) and the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). It was in the midst of this controversy that the destruction of the inscription took place.