Germany ‘reflecting on’ history of aggression vs. Japan ‘covering up’ history of aggression
In 2001, Germany registered Zollverein Coal Mine of city of Essen in UNESCO World Heritage List. Zollverein was the biggest coal production site in Europe in the 20th century and is the place Jewish people and POWs of World War Ⅱ were forced into labor. Germany has made it clear that this is not a World Heritage Site that glorifies crimes of aggression, but a site that reflects crimes of aggression. In order to do this, the German government installed a monument in the site and explained facts about ‘forced laborers’ along with photos of Nazi victims.
Germany has been reflecting on history of aggression by doing this, but Japan has been covering up history of aggression through its World Heritage.
A recent UNESCO investigation has reconfirmed that Japan has in fact distorted the history of forced labor of Koreans on Hashima Island(a.k.a. Battleship Island), which was registered as a World Heritage site. On 22 July 2021, UNESCO passed a resolution that 23 Japanese industrial facilities including the Hashima island has been mismanaged. This resolution states that the Japanese government has not properly explained the facts about forced labor in these facilities during the 1940s.
In 2015, the Japanese government has promised that it will display exhibits that commemorate the forced laborers at the meiji industrial sites including the Hashima Island when the sites were going to be registered at UNESCO. However, the heritage information center that opened in Shinjuku Tokyo in June 2020 did not display any testimony of victims and distorted history by only displaying Hashima residents’ testimonies that they have never seen ethnic discrimination nor forced labor.
VANK believes that now is an opportunity to inform the world of the reality of the Japanese government’s history distortion, which has been reconfirmed by UNESCO’s investigation that Japan has distorted the history of forced labor of Koreans.
Therefore, VANK created digital posters in Korean, English and Chinese that reports Japan’s hypocritical stance that covers up history of aggression, compared to Germany which reflects on history of aggression, and started a campaign to tell the world of issue through social media.
In particular, VANK created English poster in order to tell world citizens of Japan’s history distortion of Hashima island, and Chinese poster in order to tell the same issue to Chinese who share the history of aggression of Japanese imperialist era.
The poster introduces Zollverein Coal Mine of Essen, Germany which was registered in UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, shows that Germany reflects on its history of aggression.
In comparison, the poster also introduces Japan’s history distortion, saying “There were no racial discrimination nor forced labor”, while registering 23 Meiji industrial facilities including the Hashima island in UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
Along with this, it introduces the text of the resolution that UNESCO expressed “strong regret” for Japan’s history distortion.
VANK hopes that Koreans around the world use this poster to inform world citizens about Japan’s history distortion that ‘covers up’ history of aggression.
The poster also introduces the petition link (maywespeak.com/unesco) that reports Japanese governments history distortion on Hashima island.
Zollverein Coal Mine in Essen, Germany
registered in UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001
Explains facts about ‘forced laborer’
along with photos of Nazi victims
Germany reflects on history of aggression
Japan covers up history of aggression
UNESCO “strongly regrets” Japan’s history distortion
23 Meiji Modern Industrial Facilities including Hashima Island in Japan
registered in UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015
Distorts history by stating
“There were no racial discrimination nor forced labor”