Official records have confirmed that Japanese military police massacred Koreans during Tokyo's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula following a powerful earthquake in Japan in 1923, a South Korean lawmaker claimed Friday.
The claim by Rep. Yoo Ki-hong of the main opposition Democratic Party comes three days after the National Archives of Korea unveiled decades-old records of Koreans who were killed during the March 1919 independence movement and following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.
Historians say up to 6,000 Koreans were killed in the aftermath of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that devastated Tokyo, Yokohama and other surrounding prefectures. The massacre began as the Japanese government spread rumors of a planned riot by Koreans in a scheme to divert public attention from the social unrest.
"A list of 290 victims of the Great Kanto Earthquake clearly reveals cases of murder by the Japanese military police," Yoo said during a meeting of a special parliamentary committee against the distortion of Northeast Asian history. "There's also evidence that four people with the same address, including a child, were killed en masse."
The records, which were discovered at the South Korean embassy in Japan in June, are believed to have been drawn up during the Rhee Syngman administration in 1952.
Citing the records, Yoo called on the government to lodge a strong protest with the Japanese government and demand accountability.
The new discovery comes at a time when relations between South Korea and Japan are strained due to the Abe administration's unrepentant attitude toward Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap News)