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National archives unveils list of Koreans killed after 1923 quake in Japan

South Korea's national archives released Monday a list of some of the Korean victims killed by Japan after a powerful earthquake in Japan in 1923.

The list includes the names and addresses of 318 Koreans massacred by Japan following the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake in Japan as well as the circumstances under which the victims were killed, according to the National Archives of Korea.

The release came after official records, believed to have been drawn up during Seoul's Rhee Syng-man administration in 1952, were discovered at the South Korean Embassy in Japan in June last year.

Historians say up to 6,000 Koreans were killed in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.9 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.

The records are now available for those who officially apply for the release of the information, the national archives said, adding that they will release the records over the Internet from July so everybody could browse the lists unconditionally.

According to the released records, the Japanese government, including the police and firefighters, were involved in the massacre, which took place during Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.

Bamboo spears and metal hooks were used to kill the Korean victims, who include many children as young as 2.

An official from the archives said "the latest release of the lists of Kanto massacre victims will greatly help the (the country's) efforts to find the truth and research about the incident."

A bill aimed at restoring the reputations of the massacre victims is now pending at the National Assembly.

Kim Jong-soo, who led civil efforts to look into the Kanto massacre, said that "Japan has not properly admitted to the government's systemic involvement in the massacre ... the South Korean government should start an official investigation into the massacre and press Japan for closer cooperation." (Yonhap)