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Seoul to issue report on nuke victims in Japan

Seoul will release a report on Korean victims of the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan to raise awareness about the damage suffered by those who were forced into slave labor during World War II, officials said Tuesday.

In December 2010, a committee under the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of investigating forced conscription during Japanese colonial rule issued a paper detailing the victims’ sufferings for the first time at the state level.

It will translate the document into Japanese and distribute 1,000 copies on Aug. 6, 70 years after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The Nagasaki attack took place three days later.

More than 200,000 Koreans were believed to have been taken to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to work at facilities such as the shipyards where Mitsubishi Heavy Industries manufactured warships, torpedoes and other military and industrial supplies. They were also mobilized for reconstruction work later on and so were further exposed to residual radiation, according to the document.

To better promote the pain endured by the forced laborers, the committee in April 2012 agreed with a Tokyo-based civic group specialized in translation to publish 49 related books and papers in Japanese.

Civic groups and historians assess that about 100,000 of the 740,000 victims were Korean. Some 50,000 of them died in the aftermath of the two attacks, while about 43,000 survivors returned home.

Last week, a group of bombing victims and civic organizations shed light on their sufferings for the first time during a conference at the U.N. to review the Nonproliferation Treaty, which had so far dealt with the issue focusing on Japanese casualties.

“The 43,000 returnees passed away amid social indifference, their physical wounds and aftereffects untreated,” Shim Jin-tae, a 72-year-old Korean whose father was drafted to work at a Hiroshima military base, was quoted as saying at the session.

“Japan must stop distorting the history of its aggressive war and colonial rule and apologize and offer compensation to them.”

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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