National / Politics

Vietnam, China back South Korea's opposition to Japan's UNESCO bid


Vietnam and China have voiced their support for South Korea’s opposition to Japan’s bid for a UNESCO World Heritage listing of historical industrial sites, Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday.

During a meeting with Vietnamese defense chief Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi on Thursday, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo asked for the country’s “understanding and support for Seoul’s effort to stop Japan’s drive,” according to Yonhap.

“In response, the Vietnamese minister expressed his empathy with the shared painful history, and vowed to deliver Seoul’s request to its relevant department,” the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a release.

In a report from Beijing earlier Thursday, Yonhap quoted Na Kyung-won, chairwoman of South Korea’s National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee, as telling a group of South Korean reporters on Wednesday that Chinese officials have expressed their common support for South Korea’s opposition to the listing.

“The Chinese officials told us that they fully support our stance with regard to the issue of Japan’s bid for UNESCO World Heritage,” she was quoted as saying.

Na met with Fu Ying, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, and Chinese Foreign Ministry officials in Beijing on Wednesday.

A UNESCO advisory panel has recommended listing the “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” as a World Heritage site, endorsing all 23 facilities proposed by the Japanese government, the Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency said earlier this month.

The South Korean government has expressed opposition to the listing, saying seven of the facilities included in the proposal involved the use of a total of 57,900 conscripted Korean laborers.

Japan says the period covered by the sites is from the 1850s to 1910, which differs from the period covered by the “requisition of civilians” from the Korean Peninsula, its historical status and its background.

Japan and South Korea, at talks held in Tokyo last Friday, failed to bridge the gap over the issue but agreed to continue discussions.

The World Heritage Committee will meet in Germany in July to decide whether to register the Japanese industrial sites, including a shipyard, a machinery factory and a coal mine.