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Rally Against Sado Gold Mines Supplies More Evidence-Free Fake History

"Testimonials" by second-generation witnesses are hearsay, not evidence, and should not be permitted to impede UNESCO listing of the Sado gold mines.



Sado Gold Mine
Doyu-no-warito, the iconic feature of the Sado gold mines.

The registration of Japan's Sado gold mines as a World Heritage site currently faces opposition in South Korea. However, there are also forces within Japan that pander to South Korean claims about forced wartime labor, despite contradictory evidence. Moreover, they fail to note that the Sado World Heritage registration does not even include the wartime period.

One example is a Japanese organization alleging that people were forcibly abducted from the Korean Peninsula during World War II and subjected to slave-like labor at the Sado mines. On April 21, 2023, the group in question brought the families of the purported victims to Sado Island. On the following day, April 22, the organization staged a rally in Sado City where it condemned the registration of the Sado mines as a World Heritage site.

The group also invited bereaved families to give their testimonials. This event was swiftly reported in Japan under sensational headlines such as "Families of Korean Forced Labor Victims at the Sado Mines Visit Sado City" and "Criticism of Move to Register World Heritage Site While Concealing History."

Sado gold mines
Kim Seung Eun, one of the rally organizers from the Institute of Korean Ethnic Issues, leads the discussion at the April 22 rally. (© Ryosuke Nagatani)

'I Do Not Know Exactly When And How…'

This author attended the April 22 rally. When it comes to substantiating claims of "forced mobilization" and "forced labor," the rally was a highly muddled affair.

Take the aforementioned testimonials, for instance. Jeong Sang-Yong (정쌍용) was allegedly "forcibly mobilized" to the Sado mines in 1943. Yet, his son, Jeong Un-Jin (정운진) , acknowledged in his April 22 testimonial that, "I do not know exactly when and how my father was taken away."

Why does he assert that his father was "forcibly mobilized" when he does not even know when or how? This is a glaring contradiction.

For testimonials to be considered credible evidence, they must be fully verified. However, none of the Korean testimonials presented on 22 April met this minimum standard. Instead, they were hearsay, and also riddled with incomprehensible details.

Sin's Medically Confounding Testimonial 

Sin Seong Gi, daughter of Sin Tae Mog, who came to Sado in 1941, also delivered a testimonial on April 22. Sin Seong Gi claimed that upon returning to Korea in 1945, her father's shortness of breath and coughing became severe. He had such difficulty breathing that he became entirely reliant on the care of his family.


Sin Seong Gi was referring to silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhalation of ore dust when working in mines. A medical paper on silicosis at the Sado mines was published by Ken Saito in 1944. According to Saito's paper, silicosis may be divided into stages I, II, and III. From stage II, the disease begins to interfere with daily life. Based on Sin Seong Gi's account, her father would appear to have been in stage III silicosis.

However, Saito's paper demonstrates that, on average, a person must work for more than ten years to develop stage III silicosis. It is medically perplexing that Sin Seong Gi's father could have developed stage III, considering he only worked for five years.

Sado gold mines are a Tokugawa-era unique industrial site featured in application for UNESCO World Heritage Site status (©Sankei)

Testimonials on Medical Symptoms Unrelated to Mining

Similar medical inconsistencies can be seen in the testimonial of Kim Mun Gug's son, Kim Pyeong Sun. Kim Mun Gug apparently worked on Sado Island for six years and was said to have suffered from stage III silicosis. He complained that his abdomen had become distended like a pregnant woman's. However, the phenomenon of a distended abdomen cannot be identified among the symptoms of silicosis and requires verification.

No An Dae, the son of No Jo Gu, said that his father suddenly developed a cough at some point after 1995 and died. However, if the onset of the disease occurred fifty years after the end of the war in 1945, it must be considered unrelated to his labor at the Sado mines.

If such testimonials are to constitute evidence of "forced mobilization" or "forced labor," they must be verified from a medical perspective.

Sado Kinzan gold mines, nominated for UNESCO registration as a World Cultural Heritage Site. (©Sankei)

Sado Citizens: 'There was no Forced Labor or Mobilization'

The so-called evidence presented at the April 22 rally in Sado City consisted only of second-hand testimonials. Not a single first-person testimonial or contemporary document was introduced to support the claims.

The Historical Awareness Research Committee (HARC), to which this author belongs, has established that there was no "forced mobilization" or "forced labor" by citing contemporary documents produced during and immediately after the war.

One Sado resident attending the April 22 rally said forthrightly during the question and answer session, "I do not believe there was any 'forced mobilization' or 'forced labor'. I think you should clarify the definition of the word 'forced' before holding rallies on the issue."

It would seem that the academic activities of the HARC may have reached the citizens of Sado. Against this man's statement, the organizers could not offer a single word by way of counterargument. They simply proceeded on to the next question.

Using Fake History to Impede Japan-South Korea Rapprochement

It cannot be emphasized enough that Japanese citizens led this rally. Japanese groups are denigrating the Sado gold mines with false history and actively hindering Japan-South Korea rapprochement.


How convincing are the claims of "forced mobilization" and "forced labor" made by organizations that do not present any factual data but instead provide dubious second-hand testimonials?


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Ryosuke Nagatani