Kan, Lee agree on return of looted archives

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak have formally signed an accord to have Japan to return 1,205 volumes of Korean historical records stolen during its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and South Korean counterpart Kim Sung Hwan signed the agreement Sunday after holding a bilateral summit on the margins of the APEC summit.

The accord was signed after Kan made a promise on Aug. 10 to hand over the cultural artifacts, which include the royal records of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) called the Joseon Wangsil Uigwe. This year marks the centennial of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

Kan hailed the pact and said this year marks a “milestone” in bilateral ties.

The accord will take effect after the parliaments of both countries ratify it. The archives will then be returned to South Korea in six months.