Terror attacks on Koreans rise in Japan - News - The Independent

Terror attacks on Koreans rise in Japan

LATE LAST summer, a Korean girl named Kwon Woo Min was walking home from school in western Tokyo when a middle-aged man struck her on the head with an umbrella, and rode quickly away on his bicycle.

A few minutes later, as she waited at the railway station another man spat on her. The next day, a Korean school in Tokyo received anonymous phone calls from a man who threatened to kidnap a pupil, strip her and dump her on a river bank.

Dozens more threatening calls were made over the next few days - razor blades were sent through the post, and Korean schools in Japan went into a panic after someone rang the General Association of Korean Residents claiming to have put cyanide in a school water tank.

For the past two and half months Korean Japanese have been taunted, shoved, spat on, threatened, stabbed and even murdered. The majority of the victims have been young girls, travelling to and from school in traditional Korean dress.

There are about 650,000 ethnic Koreans living in Japan and since the early part of the century they have suffered prejudice and occasional violence. This month a United Nations human rights panel listed discrimination against Koreans as one of 30 areas of concern in Japan. But things have rarely been as bad as they are now.

"People feel fearful and scared, but also very angry," said So Chung On, of the General Association, known in Japan as Chosen Soren. "When the situation on the Korean peninsula is tense, when Japan propagates hostility against North Korea, people act on these false allegations, and they victimise people who cannot resist. They aim at schoolchildren, schoolgirls who cannot resist. It is very nasty."

The latest wave of attacks has a very particular cause - the launch by North Korea of a long-range rocket through the skies high above northern Japan on 31 August. It was initially identified by the American military as a ballistic missile; Pyongyang insisted that it was a civilian rocket bearing a small satellite into orbit. Either way, it was a shock to the Japanese who knew nothing of the rocket's existence until after it had plunged into the sea. Sanctions were imposed and the next day, the attacks on the schoolgirls began.

There were 33 separate incidents in September. Last week, petrol bombs were thrown into the Tokyo and Yokohama offices of Chosen Soren. A month ago an official on night duty in the Chiba city branch died after being beaten, strangled, stabbed, soaked in petrol and set alight. The police at first appeared reluctant to acknowledge a political motivation, insisting the killing was part of a botched burglary.

There have been no arrests, although most believe the culprits are members of Japanese right-wing organisations, who regularly parade through the streets, waving Rising Sun flags and blaring martial music.

Leaders of the Chosen Soren are senior members of the Workers' Party and, as the de facto North Korean embassy in Tokyo, it is also believed to channel money from Korean businessmen in Japan to the government in Pyongyang.

In 1994, there were similar attacks during the nuclear crisis when Pyongyang was suspected of developing nuclear weapons. Then, as now, the victims were schoolgirls whose uniform consists of the Korean national costume, a skirt and short jacket called chima chogori. "Even if we don't know whether North Korea launched a missile or a satellite, it should take responsibility for causing anxiety," said Kim Yong, a Korean mother. "But what did Korean schools do? What does it have to do with young children?"

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week