December 14, 2011
At the invitation of the South Korean government, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Kasai Akira attended a ceremony commemorating the return of royal protocols of the Joseon Dynasty from Japan held on December 13 in Seoul.
The ceremony was hosted by the Cultural Heritage Administration and took place at the Chyongmyo Shrine which enshrines the kings and members of the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty. Representing Japan, Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Muto Masatoshi also took part in the ceremony.
In the ceremony, Kasai was introduced as a Japanese parliamentarian who made the greatest contribution to the return of the assets by Kim Ui Jeong, chair of the Joseon Dynasty Ugiwe Recovery Committee, a civic organization working to regain Korean cultural assets.
Kasai thanked him for South Korea’s invitation and said to Choe Kwang Sik, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, “I’m honored to witness this historical moment.”
Later on the same day, Kasai participated in a public meeting organized by the Committee and discussed with descendants of the Korean royal dynasty about the significance of the return of Korean cultural heritage as a step toward resolution of historical issues between the two nations.
Kasai pointed out that Japan took away the royal protocols from Korea because it intended to use Korean culture as a tool to control Korean people who were increasing their protests against Japan’s tyrannical domination.
Kasai said that the return of the royal protocols “not only means restoring cultural assets to their rightful place but also is significant as a first step toward resolution of problems regarding Japan’s colonization of Korea.”
He also expressed his determination to work hard for further development of Japan-South Korea relations.
The royal protocols are an important component in Korea’s cultural heritage describing and illustrating national ceremonies during the Joseon Dynasty. Japan took them out of Korea during its colonial rule. In 2010 marking the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea, the Japanese government concluded an accord with the South Korean government to return 1205 historical documents.