President Yoon “Kishida’s ‘heartbreaking thoughts’ resonate strongly with Koreans”
South Korea, Japan leaders jointly visit ‘atomic bomb memorial’… Kishida says no mention of past history “important for bilateral relations and world peace”
President Yoon Seok-yul and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the memorial to Korean atomic bomb victims at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, on Monday morning and paid their respects together. This is the first time the leaders of South Korea and Japan have jointly visited the memorial to Korean atomic bomb victims.
At 7:35 a.m., President Yoon, accompanied by First Lady Kim Gun-hee and former CEO of Kovana Content, lined up with Prime Minister Kishida and his wife, who were the first to arrive, to pay their respects and bow for 10 seconds of silence. President Yoon paid his respects to the memorial once more, and the two leaders then paid their respects to the atomic bomb victims.
Ten South Korean atomic bomb victims, including Park Nam-joo, former chairman of the South Korean Special Committee for A-bomb Victims, and Kwon Jun-oh, current chairman of the South Korean Special Committee for A-bomb Victims, joined the two leaders in paying their respects at the memorial.
Hiroshima is the site of the first atomic bombing by the United States during World War II. Tens of thousands of South Koreans who were forced to live in Hiroshima were also killed by the bomb. The memorial reads, “About 20,000 Koreans lost their precious lives in an instant due to the atomic bombing,” but some estimates put the number of victims at more than 50,000.
The Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Memorial was erected in 1970 through fundraising by Koreans to commemorate the souls of Koreans who lost their lives when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. It was initially erected outside the Peace Park due to opposition from Japanese authorities, but was moved inside the park in July 1999.
The joint visit by the leaders of South Korea and Japan to the memorial was proposed by Prime Minister Kishida during their summit in Seoul on July 7먹튀검증.
Yoon, the first South Korean president to visit the memorial, did not give a message at the site. After the joint visit, the two leaders moved to the International Conference Center in Peace Park for their summit.
“Our joint visit will be remembered as a courageous act by Prime Minister Kishida to pay tribute to the Korean victims of the atomic bombing and to prepare for a peaceful future,” Yun said in his remarks.
“Prime Minister Kishida’s words during his last visit to Korea, ‘I am heartbroken that the victims of forced labor had to go through such a painful and sad experience in a harsh environment,’ resonated deeply with the people of the Republic of Korea,” Yun said, “and I value his courage and determination to show his sincerity.”
“This is important not only for bilateral relations but also for the further development of world peace,” Kishida said, and suggested to Yun that “after the meeting, we could join other leaders to visit the Peace Memorial Museum and pray together at the Peace Memorial Park memorial.”
While the joint visit by the two leaders to the Korean atomic bomb victims is considered a meaningful gesture, there was no direct apology from Kishida for the past history, including forced mobilization.
The presidential office said, “It means that the two leaders are facing the heartbreaking past of Japan-South Korea relations and working together for healing.”
Kishida’s political connections and the host city of the Group of Seven (G7) summit make Hiroshima an ideal location for Japan to appeal to the international community as the “world’s only atomic bomb victim” to dilute its image as a war criminal state that started the Pacific War.
It has been pointed out that while Japan is leading the nuclear disarmament statement at the G7 summit, it is also contradicted by the reality that it has declared that it has a “capability to strike back at enemy bases” and is expanding its defense budget.