Japan removes monument for Korean forced labor victims despite criticism

A Japanese local government has taken down a memorial stone for Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor at a public park earlier this week despite opposition from activist groups. Authorities from Gunma Prefecture began pulling down the stone on Monday and finalized the removal on Wednesday, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported the next day. Aerial photographs taken by the news outlet showed the remains of what appeared to the base of the memorial stone smashed into pieces at the site. The authorities are said to have spared the epitaph of the stone and handed it over to a civic group handling the memorial stone, before tearing down the concrete wall. The phrase, "Remembrance, Reflection and Friendship," is engraved in Korean, Japanese and English on the epitaph. The memorial stone was erected in 2004 by a civic group in Japan to promote the public's understanding of the shared past history from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and the friendship between the two neighbors . In 2014, Gunma Prefecture refused to extend the state approval for the establishment of the stone, claiming a civic activist made inappropriate remarks about the forced labor victims during a 2012 memorial event. Japan's top court ruled in favor of the Gunma authorities in 2022, but the civic group has filed for separate suits seeking to block the removal. Source: Yonhap News Agency