UNESCO has urged Japan to tell the world about the brutalities committed against the Koreans it forced to work on Hashima Island during World War Two.
The decision was made Wednesday at a meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which looked at Japan's progress on the commitments it made when the industrial facilities including those on Hashima were registered as World Cultural Heritage Sites in 2015.
At that time, Tokyo had promised to publicize Hashima's "full history."
The island, southwest of the country, is promoted by Japan as a historical site from the Meiji Revolution period. But it was also where some 500 to 800 Koreans were forced to work for little or no pay and hardly any food.
Japan had said it would let visitors know that a large number of Koreans were brought there against their will and forced to work in the coal mines under harsh conditions.
It also said it was prepared to take measures to commemorate the victims like setting up an information center.
But these promises have not been implemented properly.
Japan's implementation report submitted last year not only omitted phrases like "forced" and "against their will", it said simply that a large number of people from the Korean Peninsula "supported" Japanese industry.
And the information center, it said, would be in Tokyo, over a thousand kilometers away from Hashima.
Even worse, it was to be set up as a "think tank," which could be used to portray the facts as a matter of opinion.
In its evaluation Wednesday, adopted by consensus, the committee did not outright ask Japan to use the word "forced," but it did urge Japan to fully implement its pledges.
It also "strongly urged" Japan to consider international best practices when it interprets the "full history."
And as if to further remind Japan of its promises, the draft included Japan's 2015 statement.
Japan's delegate to UNESCO, Takio Yamada, said that Japan intends to carry out the committee's requests and keep its own promises.
South Korea's foreign ministry called UNESCO's decision "meaningful," and said it will continue to seek dialogue with Tokyo as well as the international community.
"Our government will be closely watching Japan's implementation of its promise and continue to urge Tokyo to commemorate the victims in a sincere manner at the earliest time."
Japan's next implementation report is due by December of 2019, and will be examined by the committee in 2020.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.