In another round of “let’s make matters worse for East Asian neighbours”, plans to erect a memorial statue in China for a South Korean activist who assassinated the Japanese governor of occupied Korea in 1909 have been met with anger and criticism by the Japanese government. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the man being honored, Ahn Jung-geun, is “a criminal”, and that this move is not good for Japan-South Korea relations.
In a press conference, Suga said that they have already expressed their sentiments to the Korean government about glorifying someone they consider a criminal. Ahn shot Hirobumu Ito, who had served as the first prime minister of Japan, on the train platform at Harbin’s railway station in China. Ito had just signed the Eulsa Treaty which finalized Japan’s annexation of the Korean peninsula. After shooting the Japanese governor and injuring three other Japanese officials, he then waved the Korean flag and shouted his demand for independence. A Japanese court found him guilty and sentenced him to death by hanging, which was executed on March 26, 1910.
Korea considers Ahn a hero and has already erected a memorial in Seoul, and they have also named a submarine after him. North Korea has made a propaganda movie about him, as he was born in Hwanghae province in what is northern territory now. South Korean president Park Geun-hye and China’s state councilor Yang Jiechi discussed the details of the memorial in a meeting on Monday. Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Japan’s Fukui Prefectural University, said that while Korea has the right to put up a statue within their country, involving China in it is “a very anti-Japanese action.” He also says that if China allows this, then they cannot protest if he Uygur or Tibetan minorities will choose to petition putting up statues of their own freedom fighters in other countries.
[ via South China Morning Post ]