S. Korea protests Japan’s Sado mine World Heritage push

SEOUL (Jiji Press) — The South Korean government Friday protested Japan’s plan to recommend the Sado gold mine site in Niigata Prefecture for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing.

Seoul “strongly regrets” the plan and “sternly urges Japan to stop its attempt,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The plan was announced by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

Second vice foreign minister Choi Jong-moon summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koichi Aiboshi to lodge a protest.

Seoul is expected to wage a campaign against Japan’s pursuit of World Cultural Heritage registration of the Sado site.

The fresh dispute adds fuel to the deterioration in the two Asian countries’ relations that mainly reflects history issues including over wartime labor.

“Koreans were forced to work under harsh condition during World War II” at the Sado island mines, the statement said.

The statement referred to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s resolution in July last year that expressed strong regrets over insufficient explanations on Korean laborers at exhibits of Japan’s Meiji era industrial revolution sites on the heritage list.

“The Japanese government should first fully implement the follow-up measures that it pledged when the sites were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015,” the statement said.

In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, “We cannot accept South Korea’s unique opinion.”

Japan conveyed the view to the South Korean Foreign Ministry through the embassy in Seoul, Hayashi told reporters.