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Once declared to be squatters in a ruling by the nation’s top court, descendants of wartime Korean laborers in western Japan opened a museum Saturday, aiming to celebrate the civic collaboration that eventually secured their right of abode.

The Utoro Peace Memorial Museum, located in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, chronicles 77 years of struggle, starting with the first generation of Korean residents there who chose to stay in Japan at the end of World War II, partly because of the difficulties of returning to the Korean Peninsula. They had been involved in building an airfield when the war came to a close in 1945, but after Japan’s defeat construction was halted.

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