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  Letters to the Editor
Inaccuracy in "Great Kanto Earthquake" Article
Yokohama destroyed by 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake (関). A total of upto 142,000 were killed and some 37,000 went missing in the earthquake what shook much part of Japan.

Dear Seoul Times,

In October 13, 2003 article "The Day Kanto Shook - 80 Years On" (, Mr. Mark Buckton states:

"At no point I found, is there any obvious reference to the organized hunting down and murder of thousands of Korean and Chinese believed somehow responsible for the quake. Unfounded, and some believe police initiated, rumors spread as lethally as the flames that the Asian neighbors of the local Japanese were poisoning water supplies in the aftermath."

I have no idea how he came by this omission, but the facility includes a memorial specifically honoring the Korean victims of this pogrom, dedicated in 1973.

I can translate the text of the memorial in full, if you like. In brief, it states that over 6000 Korean nationals lost their lives at our hands, and that we mourn them and believe that telling the truth about what happened will prevent us from repeating the same mistake. It also expresses hope that the efforts of Japanese nationals in creating this monument will be of some help to bettering relations between the two peoples.

I'm also troubled by Mr. Buckton's characterization of the facility as neglected, and the lessons of the disaster as forgotten. The park and the museum are favored meeting places for peace activists, as well as the Korean War victims' groups and Japanese nationals of conscience who support the effort. The first official memorial rite for forcibly relocated-Korean nationals who perished in the Tokyo air raids was held in the Museum, for example.

As for the Great Kanto Earthquake itself, it's certainly not forgotten. The big annual disaster drill has been taking place on September 1 for decades. Everyone who has gone through the Japanese school system is familiar with the tense donning of protective hoods accompanied by a moment of silence. And I frankly don't know any other country where so many people have disaster kits waiting in their home. The lesson is well-learned.

I have included a link to a site with photos of the memorial. It is the one with a small praying statue and an offering of 4 potted flowers:

Please consider adding a correction to the original article about the monument.

A.S Kaku / 来
Christchurch 8013
New Zealand
Tel: +64-21-201-3134
Fax: +1-650-240-0378

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