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Tokyo governor snubs tribute for Koreans slaughtered after 1923 Great Kanto Quake

A woman in Korean folk costume dances for the Korean victims of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake during a citizens' group memorial ceremony at Yokoamicho Park in Tokyo's Sumida Ward on Sept. 1, 2019. (Mainichi/Kentaro Mori)

TOKYO -- Gov. Yuriko Koike again failed to send a message of condolence to a Sept. 1 memorial ceremony paying tribute to the Korean victims of a massacre that followed the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.

The ceremony, organized by citizens groups and staged at a park in the capital, is held annually to honor Korean residents who were murdered amid the chaos in the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake, which left more than 105,000 people dead or missing, mainly in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

People pray for the victims of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake during a memorial service held by an organization linked to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government at Yokoamicho Park in Tokyo's Sumida Ward on Sept. 1, 2019. (Mainichi/Kentaro Mori)

Tokyo governors had historically sent messages of condolence to the groups' ceremony. However, from 2017 Koike only sent a condolence message to a similar broader ceremony held nearby for all victims of the huge temblor.

Separately on Sept. 1, the 96th anniversary of the earthquake, "Tokyo-to Irei Kyokai" (Tokyo metropolitan memorial association), which has close ties with the metropolitan government, held a condolence ceremony for all victims of the quake and fire at a memorial hall at Tokyo Metropolitan Yokoamicho Park in Sumida Ward. At the service, Akira Hasegawa, one of the three vice governors of Tokyo, read out a tribute from Koike.

The ceremony for the Korean victims is held by an organizing committee comprising citizens groups including the "Niccho Kyokai" (Japan-Korea association) at an open space in the same park.

Yasuhiko Miyakawa, chairman of the organizing committee, said, "Koike, as the head of the city that will host the Olympic Games next year, is going against the Olympic Charter, which bans discrimination."

Koreans and Chinese living in the Greater Tokyo area during the disaster were massacred by vigilante groups and police after unfounded rumors circulated that they had poisoned well water following the quake. A report by the National Disaster Management Council recognizes that "one to several percent" of the people who died or went missing in the disaster were victims of the massacre.

(Japanese original by Kentaro Mori, City News Department)

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