Japan recently reacted negatively with much fanfare, over the news that the South Korean and Chinese governments indicated “progress” on “cooperation” to build a Memorial Hall for Ahn Jung-Geun, who shot and killed Hirobumi Ito, then Japan’s top official in Korea, at the railway station in Harbin in northeast China in 1909.
Many Chinese and Koreans consider Ahn to be a “resistance fighter” and a hero. Ahn also had/has many Japanese admirers. Japan considers him a “criminal”.
But there is 1 note, though, the Memorial Hall hasn’t even been built yet. It’s all just talk right now.
And all China said was, “China will in accordance with relevant regulations on memorial facilities involving foreigners make a study to push forward relevant work.”
“Make a study to push forward….” China hasn’t even agreed to allow it yet. They just said they were going to look INTO the South Korean request.
A little history.
Ahn was a member/officer in an armed Korean Resistance Group, and his decided to assassinate Ito, and listed many of Ito’s crime against peace between Japan, Korea, and China. Among them, Ito was responsible for the infamous Eulsa Treaty, a prelude to Japan’s annexation of Korea.
After Japan’s occupation of Manchuria, Japan erected a statue of Ito on the spot where he was killed in Harbin. This statue was removed in 1945, under the Chinese general policy of not have memorial statues for foreigners (which had some exceptions).
In 2006, a NGO group in Harbin (consisting of Chinese and Koreans) obtained permission from city of Harbin to erect a small statue of Ahn. But the statue was in a private shopping mall. But the Chinese Central Government deemed the statue to be inappropriate, and had the statue removed, citing again, the old general Chinese policy of not having statues for foreigners.
Which leads to today: the same NGO group lobbied to the South Korean Government officially request Chinese government permission and cooperation to build, not merely a statue, but a much bigger Memorial Hall for Ahn.
The cost of the project is expected to be 15 billion Korean Won (about $14 million). The South Korean Government is expected to pay for 13 Billion Won (~$12.2 million). The remaining 2 Billion Won to be paid by private donations, which already included donations from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese donors.
Again, China has NOT said yes to the project, but China got the headline in Japan for merely “praising Korean assassin”.
* I tend to avoid confrontations. I don’t consider them to be productive. But there is a point when someone step up get into your face to confront you, that’s too late to avoid it. You can’t back down from a confrontation created by some one solely for the purpose to trying to make you look weak.
China didn’t create this problem. China has no reason and no room to back down. China has to take a stand on this issue, for history.
Japan has taken sides with War Criminals on the excuse of religion and tradition.
China has to take side with history, with Ahn, whose actions are far more defensible than War Criminals.