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Yokohama after the 1923 Kanto earthquake. Attacks on Koreans followed the disaster (Wikipedia/Yokohama Central Library)

Korea’s Catholic bishops have welcomed a statement from Japan’s bishops calling on the Japanese Government to accept responsibility for the 1923 Kanto Massacre and uncover the truth behind it. Source: The Tablet.

Both countries are marking the centenary of the massacre, in which around 6000 people were killed.

After Japan’s bishops issued a statement on September 6 urging their Government to “seriously confront the history of the massacre of Koreans in Japan’s Great Kanto Earthquake”, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea thanked them “for courageously showing that facing the truth is the path to true peace”. 

The Korean bishops warned that “the unfortunate ‘yesterday’ that occurred because of being different from us can become ‘today’ at any time due to discrimination and hatred towards the socially underprivileged, including immigrants and refugees”.

The killings started shortly after a major earthquake in Japan’s Kanto region on September 1, 1923, and continued for about three weeks.

Military, police and vigilantes – allegedly backed by the government in Tokyo – murdered mostly ethnic Koreans but also Chinese and Japanese people mistaken for Koreans, according to the Association for Asian Studies.

False rumours had spread that mobs of lawless Koreans had started fires, looted shelters, shops, and vacant homes, and poisoned wells throughout the area in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The Japanese bishops said it was urgent “to uncover the truth about national responsibility, apologise and compensate the victims’ families, disclose and permanently preserve materials, and expand history education without distorting facts”.


Japanese bishops’ call for honesty over 1923 massacre (The Tablet)