The issue behind the historical figure of Ahn Jung-geun, a Korean freedom fighter and activist who assassinated the Korean Peninsula’s first Japanese governor-general in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, will always be a complicated one, especially between the three nations involved – Japan, South Korea, and China. And it seems like Beijing wants to point this historical issue at Japan by putting up two memorials in the Korean hero’s name, the second one a monument to Ahn in the Chinese city of Xian, which was just unveiled on Thursday, May 29.
The monument is no doubt a not-so-subtle criticism of the historical stance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun Hye have refused to officially meet with Abe after he visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine – a memorial to Japan’s war dead, including several World War II criminals – in December 2013, with South Korea even withdrawing its ambassador to Japan in protest. Park had herself made a visit to Xian in June of 2013, and proposed to the city government about building a monument to Ahn Jung-geun, this after her talks with Xi.
The first memorial to the Korean freedom fighter was built in the city of Harbin, where a hall in the train station where the exact assassination happened was named after Ahn. Japan had criticized and protested to this action, calling Ahn a “terrorist”. When the press covering the train station memorial’s unveiling pointed Japan’s protest, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China wasn’t worried. “As to problems it may bring, I believe that we should view this as normal. Because I believe that everyone should remember history so as to take a better attitude to face up to the future,” Hua said at that time. Tokyo has yet to lodge a formal reaction to the second monument in Xian.
[via Bangkok Post]