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Assembly resolution slams Japan’s UNESCO bid for wartime facilities

A resolution condemning the Japanese government’s attempt to list wartime facilities for conscripted Korean soldiers as World Heritage was passed by a parliamentary committee Monday. The resolution will be put to a final endorsement at the National Assembly’s plenary session Wednesday.

“We strongly condemn Japanese attempts to list the wartime facilities as World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. We believe it constitutes a diplomatic provocation and poses a grave concern on the peace and stability of North East Asia,” the resolution said.

Submitted by Rep. Lee Won-wook of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy and other lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties, the bill also urged the Korean government to ensure Japan stops denying its wrongdoing during its rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945.

The resolution comes amid Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe administration’s years-long push to win UNESCO’s approval for wartime facilities on the World Heritage list. Earlier this year, the administration submitted an application to include of the facilities on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Korean government has criticized the Japanese government’s move, stating the facilities ― dubbed “the modern industrial heritage sites in Kyushu and Yamaguchi” ― include 11 wartime mobilization sites where nearly 60,000 Korean workers were coerced into slave labor during World War II.

“I believe Japan’s attempt to list those facilities as UNESCO World Heritage runs counter to the founding spirit of the (UNESCO’s) Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which is designed to protect heritage with universal values,” said Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a non-government body, has been reviewing Japan’s submission. It is expected to provide its recommendations in May to the World Heritage Committee, an inter-government body.

The 21-member committee is expected to decide whether to list the facilities on the UNESCO World Heritage at a 2015 session to be held between June 28 and July 8. More than two-thirds of members must vote yes for the proposal to be approved.

By Yeo Jun-suk (