On the 100th Anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake


This September 1 marks the centennial anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake. The Great Kanto Earthquake left a great deal of damage, not only from the earthquake itself which struck at 11:58, but also from the fires that followed. The Tokyo Imperial University Library was also destroyed by these fires, and with it the "True Record of the Joseon Dynasty.” The loss of pieces of valuable cultural heritage through natural disasters is not unprecedented. However, the fact that valuable Korean cultural heritage was housed at Tokyo Imperial University at this time is directly related to colonial rule. Following the Great Kanto Earthquake, there were many incidents in which Koreans were killed by Japanese vigilantes who believed to be true the false rumors that circulated of Korean-directed rioting. Japanese readily accepted such rumors as they connected them to activities directed toward Korea’s liberation from colonial rule. They took to unjustifiable irrational behavior by attempting to harm the Korean residents in the area. Unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice against Zainichi Koreans have not disappeared from Japanese society even today. Claims also persist that either deny or justify actions that violate their human rights or exploit them economically, even after decades have passed since Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula. Against this backdrop, the study of Korea in Japan and its social return have become more important than ever in building mutual understanding and cordial relations among the Korean and Japanese peoples. With this in mind, I, as Director of the Center, promise to continue to invigorate the activities of the Center for Korean Studies.

August 26, 2023
Tonomura Masaru, Director, Center for Korean Studies