Memorial ceremony held for Koreans mobilized during war, exhumation in May

Memorial ceremony held for Koreans mobilized during war, exhumation in May

A memorial ceremony is held for Koreans still resting in Kenken, Motobu City, around 11:30 am on Feb. 16, ahead of their exhumation.

February 17, 2019 The Ryukyu Shimpo

Motobu City, Feb. 16—A memorial ceremony was held for Koreans who lost their lives during World War II, ahead of their exhumation from their burial site in Kenken, Motobu City.

In attendance and wishing for the remains to be returned to their families were Hideo Nakamura, 89, who found the bodies 74 years ago; and Kim Hong-gul, third son of the late former President Kim Dae-jung, and chairman of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, who wished for the remains to be returned to their families.

About 50 attendees were present, including members of the Truth-Seeking Organization on Seized Koreans, Okinawa Han no Hi monument Association and students from Korea University as well as universities of other prefectures. The Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation expects to exhume the remains resting in Motobu City in May, and will timetable specifics with the landowner and other parties involved.

Kim gave his remarks at the service, stating his wishes to “exhume the remains spread across Japan and lay them to rest in the demilitarized zone of the Korean peninsula.

It may take time, but I intend to accomplish the task by all means.” He said that, “North and South Korea will join hands in the exhumation project,” and encouraged everyone in East Asia to “strive to build a bright future.”

In January of 1945, Hikosanmaru, a Japanese military transport ship, was met with U.S. airstrikes on the coast of Motobu City, resulting in the deaths of 14 army civilians aboard, including two Koreans.

Their bodies were buried across from Nakamura’s home in Kenken.

Nakamura said he “lined up the bodies and cremated them with wood. I didn’t tell anyone, because I inhumed the remains on someone’s land. I’ve been maintaining the site over the years, but no one paid attention.”

After the war, the status of Koreans mobilized in the Battle of Okinawa was not confirmed, and many of their bodies have not been returned home.

Following the inter-Korean summit held last April, Kim visited North Korea on Feb.

7 with the permission of the South Korean government.

He announced that he will be working together with Japanese and North Korean organizations to repatriate the bodies of Koreans mobilized by the Japanese government before and during the war.

(English Translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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