Kobe Port Peace Memorial dedicated

Toru Fukubayashi

"Kobe Port World War II Korean and Chinese Forced Labour Investigation Group" has been raising funds to build  “Kobe Port Peace Memorial,” that would pay tribute to those Korean and Chinese conscripted laborers as well as Allied POWs who were brought to Kobe Port by the Japanese government and companies during WWII and died while being forced to work there. The memorial was dedicated on July 21, 2008.  

The stone memorial was built in front of KCC Building that houses the historical museum of Chinese in Kobe—3 chome Kaigan-dori Chuo-ku, Kobe.  Next to the new memorial is the statue of a little girl, Mimi, who symbolizes a nuclear free Kobe.

Inscribed on the memorial are these words in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean:

At the dedication ceremony, Mr. Sankichi Yasui, President of the “Kobe Port WWII Korean and Chinese Forced Labour Investigation Group” and Professor Emeritus of Kobe University, and Mr. Lin Tong Chun, the Honorary President of the Chinese organization in Kobe, each gave a speech.  A guest from China, Mr. Zhang Fu Lai (50), whose father and uncle were forced to work at Kobe port, said, “I am grateful to the Japanese citizen group for building this memorial. On behalf of surviving forced laborers and the families of those who did not survive, I would like to pray that they rest in peace and that Japan and China will move forward together based on shared reflection on the history.” Then the ribbon was cut.    

According to research by the “Kobe Port WWII Korean and Chinese Forced Labour Investigation Group,” the number of laborers who were brought to Kobe Port and that of those who died there are as follows: Of some 5,700 Koreans workers more than 47 died, of 996 Chinese 16 died, and of about 1,400 Allied POWs 190 died.

There was no precedent in Japan that a citizen organization embarked on comprehensive research on the history of forced labor by Korean and Chinese conscripted laborers and Allied POWs on one location, and then built a memorial for all victims. It is significant in terms of recording accurate history and advancing peace movements.