Tokyo and Seoul commemorate Korean atomic bomb victims

Historic gesture of reconciliation: For the first time, a Japanese head of government and the President of South Korea commemorated the Korean victims of the US atomic bombing of 1945 in Hiroshima.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol visited a memorial to the tens of thousands of Korean victims on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima Peace Park.

Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. Many Koreans were taken to Japan for forced labor during the war. It is estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 Koreans died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a result of the US atomic bombs.

Approach between Tokyo and Seoul

For decades, the Korean victims in Hiroshima had not been specifically mentioned at the annual commemorations. For a long time there was no memorial dedicated to her. For the Koreans, this exclusion was a painful expression of their discrimination and marginalized position in Japanese society. Yoon was quoted as saying that the fact that Kishida visited the memorial with him will be remembered as a “courageous action” “to prepare for a peaceful future together”.

Kishida also called the joint visit to the memorial accompanied by her wives “significant for bilateral relations,” as reported by the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Kishida and Yoon then got together for political talks. During a visit to Yoon in Tokyo in March, both agreed on a new start in the difficult relationship. Kishida recently made a return visit to Seoul.

The rapprochement between Tokyo and Seoul is in the great interest of their common security partner, the USA, which wants to strengthen its alliances in Asia with a view to North Korea and the increasingly powerful China.

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