Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Monday said his country will ignore South Korea’s objection when deliberating a contentious plan to nominate a gold and silver mine site on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture for the 2023 Unesco World Heritage list.
“We are not giving any diplomatic consideration to South Korea. We are comprehensively considering within the government what would be most effective in seeking the Unesco World Heritage designation,” Xinhua news agency quoted Hayashi as saying.
Hayashi’s controversial remarks were made at a lower house of parliament session after the South Korean side said it was “deplorable” that Japan was seeking the listing of the mine, where Korean nationals were forcibly subjected to brutal labour during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea has demanded that Japan’s plan for the site to be nominated for the 2023 World Heritage list be immediately revoked.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, meanwhile, during the same parliamentary session, said,:”We place emphasis on issues pertaining to historic understanding. Japan will firmly respond to unjust slanders.”
Despite South Korea’s objections, the push towards mine listing reportedly gathered momentum among the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) conservative members.
“This is a situation that relates to the state’s honour. We should nominate the site in fiscal 2021,” Policy chief of the LDP, Sanae Takaichi, said of the matter in parliament.
Last month, the mine was picked as a candidate for submitting a recommendation to Unesco by Japan’s Council for Cultural Affairs.
Niigata Prefecture has claimed the mine has “a history of outstanding mining technology development before and after industrialization and became one of the world’s largest producers of gold in the 17th century”. local media reported.