Koreans killed in Great Kanto Earthquake confusion remembered on centenary

A memorial service was held in Tokyo on Friday to remember Koreans killed in turmoil after the Great Kanto Earthquake, which hit the capital and surrounding areas exactly 100 years ago.

A civic group organized the annual event at a park in Tokyo's Sumida Ward.

The massive quake on September 1, 1923, left more than 100,000 people dead or missing. In the aftermath, many Koreans were killed by Japanese amid rumors such as that Koreans were attempting to riot. Korea was annexed to Japan at the time.

The head of the organizers, Miyagawa Yasuhiko, told mourners that passing down the memories of the incident to future generations is very important for preventing a recurrence of the tragedy.

A 70-year-old participant said he attended the ceremony as he believes as a Japanese national that people should not forget the century-old history.

The organizers and others, including an association of Korean residents in Japan, had asked Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko to send a letter of mourning to the event. But she rejected the request, as she has since 2017. Until then, sending letters of mourning had been done by governors for years.

Miyagawa called Koike's lack of action a shame, and said she is avoiding history.

Koike told reporters that as Tokyo's governor, she expresses condolences every year to all the victims of the quake at another memorial ceremony at the park.