China has said that they are cooperating with South Korea in the construction of a memorial for the man who assassinated a top Japanese official in 1909. The statue, to be put up in the Harbin railway station in northeast China, has now added to tense relations between Japan and its two closest neighbours in the region, even as they’re still dealing with their respective territorial and historical issues.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that Ahn Jung-Geun is a noted anti-Japanese freedom fighter and is highly respected even by Chinese people. “China will in accordance with relevant regulations on memorial facilities involving foreigners make a study to push forward relevant work,” he said. Ahn shot and killed previous Japanese prime minister Hirobumi Ito who had just signed the Eulsa Treaty which finalized Japan’s annexation of the Korean peninsula. It was announced that South Korean president Park Geun-hye and China’s state councilor Yang Jiechi met on Monday to discuss the details of the memorial to be constructed.
The news was met with anger by Japan who consider him a criminal and hanged Ahn in 1910. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that this issue will not bode well for Japan-South Korea relations. But South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young defended their hero, who is also venerated in North Korea, saying he “sacrificed his life not for the country’s independence but regional peace.” Cho said that Japan should not be calling him a criminal and that they need to face the truth about their history. This is a common accusation leveled at Japan by those who experienced their militaristic might in the past.
[ via AFP ]