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Head of Korean Buddhism Prayed for the Korean Victims of Forced Labor

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Writer Jogye Date03 Jul 2023 Read696 Comment0


"This (Hokkaido) is where young Koreans were brought for forced labor and have remained buried in the ground until today. I believe our coming here from Korea 78 years later and remembering their sacrifice by holding a memorial service today would make them happy.”

As part of the Korean-Japanese Buddhist leaders’ cultural exchange event held in Hokkaido, Japan, the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders (Chair: Most Ven. Jinwoo, the president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism) traveled to a Buddhist temple in Fukagawa City, Hokkaido, to enshrine the ashes of Korean victims of forced labor to the altar and hold a memorial service. This is the first memorial service held by Korean Buddhist leaders in 78 years since the forced laborers were taken to Japan. The representatives of the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders including Most Ven. Jinwoo, the president of the Jogye Order, and Ven. Yoshihiko Tonohira, the abbot of Ichijoji Temple, participated in the memorial service.

"Our hearts go out to the deceased, who were forcibly recruited during the darkest days of Korean history and endured harrowing conditions, eventually losing their lives on foreign soil. We deeply regret that we came so late to honor their sacrifice so late. The Korean Buddhist delegation pledges to work together with the Japanese partners to ensure the smooth repatriation of the remains of the Korean victims enshrined in Japanese temples," said Most Ven. Jinwoo in the speech dedicated to the victims.

Ven. Dojin, the junior deputy chairman of the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders, recited an aspiration prayer, saying, "We, the Buddhist leaders of Korea, are gathered here at Ichijoji Temple in Hokkaido to ardently pray in front of the Lord Buddha for the Korean victims of forced labor to be reborn in the Amitabha’s Pure Land. May the victims\\' hearts be filled with the blessings and powers of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and gain rebirth in the Western Paradise."

20230703112517_59382216ce31c1c5d0e5bbdc0At the end of the memorial service, Ven. Yoshihiko Tonohira, the abbot of Ichijoji Temple Temple, spoke on the topic of "Excavating the Remains of Victims of Forced Labor - Listening to the Voices of the Dead," explaining the process of exhuming the remains of Korean forced laborers since 1976. According to the abbot, the remains of forced laborers who were killed during the construction of the Uryu Dam, which is located about 70 kilometers away from Ichijoji Temple, were enshrined in the nearby Kokenji Temple, while Ichijoji Temple had the remains of 70 Korean victims along with their funerary plaques passed on to the temple from an elderly woman. In 2008 and 2015, he arranged the return of the remains of Korean victims to their homeland. Ven. Yoshihiko also talked about the fundraising campaign for the reconstruction of the "Sasa-no-bohyo Exhibition Hall" (Forced Mobilization Exhibition Hall).

he Korean Association of Buddhist Orders delegation delivered funds for the construction of the Sasa-no-bohyo Exhibition Hall at the memorial service, and Most Ven. Jinwoo made a personal donation to the construction project.

Meanwhile, the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders visited the Hill of the Buddha in Sapporo to view the Buddhist shrines the world-renowned architect Tadao Ando designed. They also traveled to Date City to see the Usu Zenkoji Temple belongs to the Japanese Pure Land sect.

Pictures are from Joint Coverage Team.

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