South Korea Accusing Japan of Politicizing UNESCO

luvsmiling, May 7, 2015, 8:50 a.m.

South Korea accused Japan Thursday of politicizing UNESCO through a bid to list some of its colonial-era industrial facilities as world heritage sites.  Japan, which colonized Korea from 1910-45, has filed for the Paris-based organization's recognition of 23 coal mines, shipyards and other early industrial zones.

Nearly 60,000 Koreans are believed to have been forced into slave labor at seven of those facilities during World War II. Japan has brought the issue this far by going ahead with the registration despite our repeated calls to reconsider," foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said during a regular press briefing. "The responsibility for politicizing UNESCO lies with Japan."

The final decision on the UNESCO listing is expected to come during a meeting of the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which opens in Germany on June 28. South Korea and Japan plan to hold talks in Tokyo later this month to settle the issue.

"This is in consideration of the many member nations that worry UNESCO may be politicized due to the dispute between South Korea and Japan and wish for a smooth resolution of the issue through talks between the sides," Noh said. "We plan to work to resolve the issue with a flexible attitude."

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