Japanese teacher in Japan-colonized Korea punished her Korean students for speaking Korean and imposed Imperial Way ideology on them during WWII; in 1976 at a school reunion in Daegu, she apologized and they forgave her; former teacher (now 100 years old) and students still keep in touch as of 2021

Blogger Note: Although the English version of this article is available here at the Asahi website, it is a very abbreviated version of the full Japanese language article, which has many more details of the full story, so I took it upon myself to translate the full Japanese language article below.

Article by reporter Nakano Arai, Asahi Shimbun, August 15, 2021

 At an assisted senior residence in the suburbs of Toyama City overlooking the Tateyama Mountain Range, Tomi Sugiyama celebrated her 100th birthday in July.

 In a box in her room is a bundle of letters from Korea. They were sent by former students of hers. ‘Teacher, are you feeling any pain in your body? I would like to meet you’. The letters are written in a mixture of Korean and Japanese.

 ’I consider Korea to be my homeland. My students are very compassionate’, she said as she narrowed her eyes.

 Ms. Sugiyama taught at a national school (elementary school) in Korea, a colony ruled by Japan, for more than four years until the war’s end in August 1945. She taught wartime Imperialist education. She believed that it was the mission of teachers to turn Korean children into respectable Japanese people.

 After the war, she was plagued by remorse for her involvement in war education, and her pain was eased through reunions with her students. Seventy-six years have passed since the end of the war, and as the number of people in the generation that experienced the war dwindles, Ms. Sugiyama’s life resonates today as a valuable historical testimony.

Ms. Sugiyama’s Birth and Early Childhood

 Her father, Genjirō, and mother, Sato, farmed the family’s fields in the former village of Sugihara in Toyama Prefecture. After Japan annexed the Korean Empire (the country’s name at that time), her father crossed the sea by himself to establish a foundation for his family in Korea. Her mother followed him carrying her older brother Masao, who was four years older than her.

 Her parents settled in a farming village in Yeonggwang, Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province) in the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula, where they ran a fruit orchard. Eventually, in 1921, Ms. Sugiyama was born.

 She lived in Yeonggwang until she was about three years old. Her older brother was in elementary school, but it was too far away to walk from home to school. Her parents decided to move to the city for the sake of their children’s education and decided to give up the fruit orchard.

 The peaceful rural landscape of her birthplace is faintly in Ms. Sugiyama’s mind, along with the white acacia flowers that bloom along the orchard road.

 The family moved to Daegu, the capital city of Gyeongsangbuk-do province in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. Her parents set up a hat store at Motomachi 1-chōme in the center of the city. The name of the shop was changed to “Tomiya (富屋) Hat Shop” after the Chinese character 富 in Toyama Prefecture (富山), where the family was originally from.

 Two young Korean men lived and worked in the store. Neither of the parents could speak Korean, so whenever Korean customers came to the store, the young Korean men would attend to them. They were called by their Japanese names, Wakichi and Ichirō.

 Most of the store owners on the main street where their house and store were located were Japanese. Many of the Korean people were in the position of being used by the Japanese, and the Koreans lived clustered in areas slightly distanced from the main street. Ms. Sugiyama can only remember interacting with Japanese people among the childhood memories that she still has. She has no memory of playing with Korean children.

 Not only in Daegu but also in other areas, Japanese immigrants in colonial Korea lived clustered together, forming Japan towns with rows of Japanese-style houses. Most of the schools that Japanese and Korean children attended were segregated, and Ms. Sugiyama’s classmates at the elementary school and high school for girls were also exclusively Japanese. In hindsight, this was a distorted feature of colonialism.

 ’When I was a child, I was taught at school that Japan and Korea came together because they became good friends. So, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it’, Ms. Sugiyama recalls.

 One of the things she remembers most vividly from her days at the girls’ school was a school excursion to Japan proper. For Ms. Sugiyama, who was born and raised in Korea, Japan proper was ‘a place of yearning that made my heart numb’, she says.

Ms. Sugiyama in early adulthood

 In 1905, Japan made the Korean Empire (the country’s name at the time) a protectorate and established the Office of the Resident-General of Korea (the first chief superintendent, Itō Hirobumi) after a war with Russia over its interests in Korea during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The government gradually increased its authority over Korea, including the deprivation of diplomatic rights and the dissolution of the armed forces, and in August of 1910, the Korean Empire became a colony of Imperial Japan under the Treaty of Annexation.

 In 1938, Ms. Sugiyama was in the fifth and final year of school. In the midst of the Second Sino-Japanese War, they celebrated the Fall of Xuzhou by holding a flag parade during the day and a lantern parade at night, and the next morning they left in a hurry. From Busan, they crossed to Shimonoseki by ship and toured Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura, and other cities. Seeing Mount Fuji in the morning glow from the window of the train during the trip was an unforgettable memory.

 In Korea at that time, students who graduated from girls’ schools were often trained as brides, and their mothers did not think that they should become professional women.

 However, Ms. Sugiyama wanted to be independent. On the bulletin board of her school, she found an invitation to apply for a position at Seoul Women’s Teachers School. Although she was not an avid teacher, she decided to take the entrance examination. Her teacher persuaded her mother who was vehemently opposed to her becoming a teacher. It was a crossroads for her career as a teacher.

     ◇ ◇

Why did the reporter meet Ms. Sugiyama?

 On August 15, 2016, Tomi Sugiyama’s article appeared in the special “Peace and War” section of the “Voices” section of the Asahi Shimbun (Osaka main newspaper edition) readers’ contribution column under the headline, ‘My Country was shattered in an instant’.

 Nakano Akira, a reporter who has been covering the history of relations between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, including during his tenure in Seoul (2011-2014), has interviewed many Korean people who received Imperialist education under Japanese rule, as well as those who lived in colonial Korea and were repatriated to Japan after the war. However, he had no opportunity to meet anyone who taught in colonial Korea. He immediately visited Ms. Sugiyama to talk with her and was surprised to find that she continues to keep in touch with her students. He had this preconceived notion that Japanese who were involved in Imperialist education were resented after the war, but Ms. Sugiyama was different.

 After visiting Ms. Sugiyama several times and exchanging letters and phone calls with her, he felt he understood a little more about why she was loved by her students.

 After the defeat of Japan on August 15, 1945, the ‘illusion of colonialism’, in the words of Ms. Sugiyama, was shattered. Ms. Sugiyama, who believed that it was her duty to make the children of Korea into worthy Imperial subjects, began to look back at the past. When she met her students again about 30 years after the end of the war, Ms. Sugiyama expressed her regrets, and her students’ trust in her deepened.

 As relations between Japan and South Korea continue to fray, Ms. Sugiyama’s footprints may provide a clue for rethinking our relationship with our neighboring country. With this in mind, we wanted to introduce Ms. Sugiyama’s life story this summer, when she turned 100 years old.

Ms. Sugiyama trains to become a teacher

 In 1939, the Second Sino-Japanese War had become a quagmire and World War II broke out in Europe. Tomi Sugiyama, who was born and raised in colonial Korea, graduated from Daegu Girls’ High School in the spring of that year and entered the training course at Seoul Women’s Teachers School.

 She was 17 years old at the time. She was excited to live in a dormitory away from her parents, but she was not allowed to go out freely, and the rules were strictly enforced. The sound of a military-style bugle was the signal to get out of bed or to turn off the lights. Perhaps to heighten the war spirit, fighter planes were kept on the grounds.

 Students came from all over Korea as well as from Japan proper. Unlike the girls’ school, where the classmates were exclusively Japanese, Japanese and Korean students studied side by side at their desks.

 As a government-run school established by the Governor-General’s Office of colonial Korea, the educational content was thoroughly aimed at “Imperializing” the students.

 In the school buildings and dormitories, the only language spoken was Japanese. The school’s motto, “We are blessed to be born in an Imperial country (Sumeramikuni)”, was the first thing that was drilled into their heads as they were taught the principles of being subjects of an Imperial country.

 All lessons were about Japan. In Japanese, they studied Japanese classics such as Sei Shonagon. In music, the students were required to be able to play the organ to sing Kimigayo, the Japanese military anthem Umi Yukaba, and the four major festivals, including Kigensetsu, a national holiday in Japan.

 There was also a mental training event called the “cold-resistance march”, in which the participants had to walk all day long to Incheon in the middle of winter in bitter cold so that their breath would freeze on their eyelashes.

 The children of Korea were to be raised to be worthy Imperial subjects who would serve the Emperor. The role of the Teachers School was to train teachers who would lead the way in colonial education.

 Ms. Sugiyama approached her daily classes with a sobering feeling. Although she did not originally aspire to be a teacher, as she studied diligently, her own “Imperialization” progressed like water soaking into a cotton wool.

 However, her Korean friends may have felt differently. Later, an incident occurred that confirmed her thoughts.

 A Korean friend was assigned a homework assignment to memorize the Imperial Rescript on Education, but she forgot about it. When asked by the teacher why, she replied,

 ’I didn’t want to memorize it.’

 The teacher was furious and called her dormmate, Ms. Sugiyama, to question her friend’s attitude toward life.

 Ms. Sugiyama replied, “I don’t think it was disrespect, nor was it ideological rebellion. I think she said in the worst possible terms that she had been negligent.” She desperately defended her Korean friend in this way.

 Later, looking back, Ms. Sugiyama thought that her friend’s true feelings must have oozed out somehow. She was trying her best to show her defiance against Imperialist education.

 It was an outward appearance of submission coupled with inward defiance. After defeat in the war, Ms. Sugiyama realized that the people of Korea, who seemed to outwardly accept Japanese rule, had a different attitude deep down inside.

 The Imperial Rescript on Education, a gift from Emperor Meiji in 1890, taught Imperial subjects virtues such as filial piety and to come to the assistance of the Imperial family in times of crisis. It remained a fundamental principle of national morality and national education until the defeat of Imperial Japan in the Shōwa period (1926-1989). In 1948, after the war, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to eliminate the Imperial Rescript on Education, and the House of Councillors passed a resolution to confirm its revocation.

 It may have been a time of war, but she also had some happy memories.

 All students worked together to make kimchi to eat in the dormitories and pickled it in a jangdok fermentation pot. The welcome party for new students was a nighttime cherry blossom viewing event. It was the only nighttime outing allowed in strictly regulated school life.

 They went on a school excursion to Manchuria (northeastern China). Manchukuo (Manchuria) was where the Imperial Japanese military was stationed and the economy was controlled by Japanese state-sponsored companies such as the South Manchurian Railway. As the international community pointed out, it was under Japanese influence as a puppet state, and travel from Korea by rail was possible.

Ms. Sugiyama starts working as an elementary school teacher

 In the spring of 1941, Ms. Sugiyama graduated from the Teachers School. Her mother, who had opposed her going on to higher education before she enrolled in the school, rushed to the graduation ceremony herself.

 She was assigned as a new teacher at Dalseong Public National School (elementary school), a school for Korean children in her hometown of Daegu. As the wartime atmosphere deepened, elementary schools and other primary educational institutions were renamed “National Schools” from that year.

 Ms. Sugiyama, who was only 20 years old at the time, was full of energy and a sense of responsibility.

 ”I will raise the Korean children to be respectable Japanese people and respectable Imperial subjects.” She believed that this was the duty of a teacher, and she stood up to teach.

 In the spring of 1941, at the beginning of the Pacific War, Tomi Sugiyama taught for the first time in Daegu, colonial Korea. She taught fourth graders at Dalseong National School for Korean children.

 The use of Korean was absolutely prohibited. The students were required to repeat the “Kyūjō Yōhai ritual” (bowing in the direction of the Imperial Palace) and bowing to the Hō-an-den shrine, which held the Imperial image of the Emperor and Empress and a copy of the Imperial Rescript on Education. They were also required to recite the Imperial Japanese vow (皇国臣民ノ誓詞) every day, saying such phrases as, “We will unite our hearts in loyalty to His Majesty the Emperor”.

 In her second year, she became the homeroom teacher for the first grade. On the day of the entrance ceremony, Ms. Sugiyama sewed a nameplate on the chest of each new student’s uniform with his or her Japanese name, which had been changed in accordance with the Sōshi-kaimei policy of pressuring Koreans to adopt Japanese names.

 The name change was implemented in 1940 after the Governor-General of Korea revised the Korean Civil Code in 1939 as part of the Imperialization policy. It asked people to change their names from Korean family names to Japanese-style names. The people of Korea, who traditionally valued their ancestors, were told through their workplaces and schools that they would be disadvantaged if they did not comply.

 They had classes in the exercise yard outside under blue skies. When Ms. Sugiyama called out, “Sit down,” the children imitated her by saying, “Sit down,” in unison. The first graders did not yet understand Japanese, so she had to help them learn Japanese as soon as possible, she strongly thought.

 Now, looking back, Ms. Sugiyama imagines how frustrating it must have been for the children. They were called by their unfamiliar Japanese names, and most of all, it must have been difficult for them not to be allowed to speak their own language.

 School events took on a warlike atmosphere. At the school arts and crafts festival, the children were asked to perform the play “Dainankō,” in which Kusunoki Masanori, a military commander who was revered for having dedicated his life to Emperor Go-daigo, played the leading role. The children were also asked to make picture scrolls to be placed in comfort packages sent to soldiers in war zones. The children were also made to pick up pine needles and catch tanishi (Japanese mysterysnails) for “national defense contributions” to be given to the military.

 There were also Korean teachers at the National School, but they were treated differently from the Japanese teachers, with only the Japanese teachers receiving additional benefits. Ms. Sugiyama, a newly appointed teacher, was paid more than her more senior Korean colleagues, who had families of their own.

 The staff morning assembly was held in front of the kamidana Shinto altar in the principal’s office, and everyone recited a poem said to have been composed by Kusunoki Masanori to express his loyalty to Emperor Go-daigo, to strengthen their minds and bodies.

As wartime controls tightened, a shocking event occurred

 Japanese military police suddenly arrived at the school and took away two young male Korean teachers. No explanation was given to the other teachers, and the two never returned to the school.

 The Japanese military police (Kenpeitai) were keeping a close eye on the independence movement resisting Japanese rule. Were the Korean teachers harboring hidden feelings that they did not reveal to the Japanese teachers, even as they were carrying out the “education for Imperialization” that sought to erase the Korean language and culture?

 After the liberation of Korea following Japan’s defeat in World War II, Ms. Sugiyama saw one of these Korean teachers wearing an armband that read “Independence Preparatory Committee”.

 Among the experiences in their school lives which aimed to turn the Korean students into respectable Imperial subjects, there was one lesson that made a long-lasting impression in the minds of her students.

 There was a sewing class for 4th grade girls. The way to carry a needle and apply a jointed cloth differed between Japanese sewing techniques and Korean sewing techniques, but the teachers were required to teach the basics of Japanese sewing techniques.

 One day, the children asked to be taught how to sew beoseon, which are a type of Korean socks shaped like boots with pointed toes. Realizing that sewing techniques rooted in daily life would be more useful for the children, Ms. Sugiyama asked her mother, who was fluent in Japanese, to come to the school and teach the class with her.

 ”It was a secret, unconventional class. If the principal had found out, I would have been summoned to the school and given a big scolding or at least forced to write an apology”, Ms. Sugiyama said.

 She had completely forgotten that she had taught such a class.

 More than 30 years after the war, she met again with some of her students in Korea, and as they reminisced, one of them said, “Ms. Sugiyama, I sewed beoseon at school. We remember it well”.

 It brought back memories of her younger days at the National School, when she was trying to respond to the wishes of the children.

 The Imperial Japanese style of education was an attempt to instill the Japanese way of doing everything into the children’s consciousness, including their language, their names, and their lifestyles. At the time, she believed that it was her responsibility as a teacher to carry out this style of education, so she devoted herself to her daily lessons.

 Looking back, however, she realized that she may have been harboring a little bit of doubt in her heart about this style of education. She was relieved to come to this realization about herself.

Ms. Sugiyama loses her older brother in the Pacific War

 It was a painful event, and her memory of when it happened has faded.

 Late in the Pacific War, Tomi Sugiyama, who was living in Daegu in colonial Korea, received a notice informing her that her brother who was four years older than her had been killed in action in a war zone to the south.

 No specific information was given as to where or why her brother died, and neither his remains nor his belongings were ever delivered. Her brother left for war shortly after his marriage. He did not know that his new wife had given birth to twin daughters, and his dream of taking over his father’s hat store was cut short.

 In January 1945, Ms. Sugiyama was transferred from Dalseong National School, where she had taught for nearly four years, to the National School attached to Daegu Teachers School.

 Japan proper was bombed indiscriminately by the U.S. military, and many civilians were killed. Although Korea was never hit by a full-scale air raid, the students at the school repeatedly practiced evacuating to air-raid shelters and defending themselves from machine gun fire on a daily basis.

National Liberation Day of Korea – August 15, 1945

 Schools were on summer vacation. At noon, there was an announcement that an important broadcast was to be made, and although she sat in front of the radio to listen, she couldn’t understand it very well. Her father, who listened with her, was silent. Toward the evening, the whole town began to cheer and make a commotion.

 ”Doknip manse! 독립 만세! Long live independence!”

 She learned of Japan’s defeat in the war. For the Korean people, it meant liberation from 35 years of Japanese rule.

 ”I never thought that Japan would lose the war, and I never expected at all that Korea would gain independence if Japan lost”, she said.

 Looking back, Ms. Sugiyama had planned to continue working as a teacher in Korea, where she was born and raised. She was sure that many other Japanese living in Korea thought the same way. However, the “illusion of colonialism” was shattered in an instant.

 Early in the morning of August 16, Ms. Sugiyama set out for the outskirts of Daegu. She was going to pick up her mother, the widow of her brother who had been killed in the war, and her twin nieces, who had been evacuated to a farming village.

 While standing in line at the bus terminal, a young Korean man suddenly approached her.

 He said, “Young lady, you are Japanese, aren’t you? This is not Japan anymore, so Japanese people should get off”.

 With that, he stepped in front of her and pushed her out of the line leading to the bus. She was shocked and speechless. She gave up boarding and began to walk alone.

 After a while, she heard a voice calling out, “Teacher!” It was a boy named Yoshikane Seishō (real name Kim Jong-seop 김정섭/金正燮), one of the 4th grade students whom she taught when she first started teaching at Dalseong National School. He gave her a ride on his bicycle as he guided her to her destination.

 As they were riding along a rural road, a large number of people were walking toward the town. As she was talking with Kim, wondering what kind of people they were, she was suddenly shouted at in Korean by someone she passed by.

 ”What did he just say?” she asked. “It’s better not to ask”, the boy replied. When she asked him again and again, Kim finally answered, “He said, ‘Don’t speak Japanese. Speak Korean'”.

 Ms. Sugiyama couldn’t help but raise her voice on the spot.

 ”What’s wrong with speaking Japanese?”

 She became calm, and then she had a revelation. She herself had been the one who had ordered the Korean children to speak Japanese, not Korean, on a daily basis. She was shocked to realize this.

 At the time of the war’s end, it is estimated that there were over 700,000 ethnic Japanese people in Korea, but repatriation from the north of 38 degrees north latitude, which was occupied by the Soviet Union, was extremely difficult, and many died of hunger and cold. The authorities did not allow the engineers to return home, and many of them, including Japanese women who were married to Korean men, remained behind.

 She joined her family and returned to the hat store in Daegu. The young Korean men who had been living and working there disappeared, so they stayed inside their home while leaving the store closed.

 Soon after, the school where she used to work gave the order for the staff to assemble. They dug a large hole in a corner of the playground, carried in documents, books, and kamidana Shinto altars, and set them on fire. The traces of Imperialist education were reduced to ashes.

 Ms. Sugiyama stood in a daze in front of the rising red flames. What was the meaning of all those days that she had lived through up to the present day?

 Believing that it was her mission to raise the children of Korea to become worthy Imperial subjects, she had devoted her days to education. Everything she had built up until then instantly crumbled away, and she felt a gaping hole in her heart.

Ms. Sugiyama moves to Japan

 As the ship left the port of Busan, her days in Korea, where she was born and raised, came to mind.

 In the fall of 1945, Tomi Sugiyama left Korea, where she had lived for over 24 years, on a repatriation ship.

 She took a train from Fukuoka to Toyama, her parents’ hometown, and moved in with relatives in the former village of Sugihara. She worked hard at farm work, which she was not accustomed to, and she also worked as a walking salesperson.

 She felt guilty for having been on the front lines of Imperialist education and having cooperated in the war effort, and she felt sorry for her students in Korea. She vowed to herself that she would never take up teaching again.

 However, amid the postwar shortage of teachers, she was encouraged many times to return to teaching. In 1947, persuaded that there were many children in need, she took over a teaching position at an elementary school after a teacher took a leave of absence due to childbirth. The content of the teaching curriculum had changed.

 Meanwhile, the Korean Peninsula continued to undergo a period of upheaval. After Korea was liberated, U.S. forces occupied the south side of the 38th parallel, while Soviet forces occupied the north side. In 1948, South Korea and North Korea were founded one after the other, dividing the country into north and south.

 In Toyama, the Sugiyama family received a letter from Kim Jong-Seop hoping for a reunion with his former teacher. He was the former student at Dalseong National School in Daegu who had helped the family until they were repatriated. However, they lost contact after the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-1953).

Ms. Sugihara meets her former students again

 In 1972, when the Sapporo Winter Olympics were held, she unexpectedly learned of Kim Jong-seop’s whereabouts. He was now the South Korean consul general stationed in Sapporo. His wife was Kim Sam-hwa (김삼화/金三花), another former student of Ms. Sugiyama who adored her. After the Olympics, they met again for the first time in 27 years, and the three of them sang “Spring Stream (haru no ogawa)” and “Arirang” together.

 In 1976, Ms. Sugiyama was invited by Kim Jong-seop and his wife Kim Sam-hwa, who had returned to their home country, to visit her birth country the first time in 31 years. At Gimpo Airport in Seoul, she was greeted by her former students as well as former classmates at the Teachers School.

 She also headed to Daegu, where she had taught for more than four years. When the bus arrived, women in traditional dress ran up to her and said, “Teacher!” They held each other’s hands.

 At the welcome banquet, Ms. Sugiyama reflected on the past and apologized for trying to force everyone to become Japanese people through Imperialist education. She had always been plagued by remorse and could not help but speak out. Her former students just listened quietly.

 Some of her former students refused to attend the welcome banquet, perhaps out of distrust of Japan and Japanese people. But once they were told that their former teacher had apologized, they showed up on her subsequent visits to Korea.

 There was one former student, Park So-deuk (박소득/朴小得), who remained a source of concern. She was a fourth-year student at Dalseong National School. After graduation, she was encouraged by her teachers at the time to join the “women’s labor volunteer corps” so that she could study while working, and she was mobilized to work at a military factory in Toyama.

 Ms. Sugiyama told her students that her parents were from Toyama. This student lingered in her heart because she had raised her hand when this familiar geographic name was mentioned, but she had no idea what happened to her after the war.

 In 1993, Park So-deuk came to Japan as one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by former “labor volunteer corps” members seeking compensation from the Japanese government. Hearing that Park So-deuk wanted to meet her, Ms. Sugiyama rushed to a supporters’ rally in Fukuoka and greeted her.

 ”I am sincerely sorry for having suppressed the language of your country and imposed war-mongering education on you,” she said. “I feel like my chest is about to burst open, when I see you continuing to adore me despite everything I did to you”.

 She could not study at all during her time in the “labor volunteer corps”, like she was promised. At the very least, she wanted the Japanese government to pay her back wages. The Japanese government and companies did not respond to the lawsuits of Park and other plaintiffs, and the Japanese judiciary also did not respond.

 Park So-deuk passed away, her resentments still unresolved. Ms. Sugiyama’s regret of not being able to help her student will never go away. (Blogger note: Park So-deuk worked at the Nachi-Fujikoshi munitions factory in Toyama during the war. Although she personally could not receive compensation from the Japanese government, other ex-laborers who also worked at the same factory received a favorable ruling from the Seoul High Court ordering the Japanese machinery manufacturer to pay up to 100 million won each to 33 women who say they were forced to work for the company during the war.)

 Japan and South Korea concluded a claims agreement when diplomatic relations were normalized in 1965. The Japanese government maintains that the agreement “completely and finally resolved” the issue. On the other hand, in 2018, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Korea recognized the claims of individuals, including former laborers, and ordered Japanese companies to compensate them, which has become a diplomatic issue.

 One of Ms. Sugiyama’s students has won prizes for his novels in Korea. He told Ms. Sugiyama that he decided to become a writer after his picture diary was praised by Ms. Sugiyama. Ms. Sugiyama herself had forgotten about it. She realized the weight of a teacher’s words.

 After the war, Ms. Sugiyama worked as an elementary school teacher in Toyama for about 27 years. After retiring, she participated in a Japan-Korea exchange program organized by a private organization in Toyama prefecture and visited Korea many times. She has a favorite saying in the Korean language, which she began to learn after she had reached the age of 60.

“If the words that go out are beautiful, the words that come back are also beautiful” – “가는 말이 고와야 오는 말이 곱다”

 If we exchange words that show consideration for one another, then the tensions in the relationship between Korea and Japan will surely be relaxed.

 This was Ms. Sugiyama’ message. 

    Reporting by Nakano Akira (中野晃) of Asahi Shimbun Newspaper

Translated by blogger from: https://www.asahi.com/rensai/list.html?id=1298&iref=pc_rensai_article_breadcrumb_1298

(Original Japanese text)

あの海の向こうに ~植民地で教えた先生~①(全5回)
















韓国併合 日本は明治期、朝鮮の権益などを巡るロシアとの戦争を経て1905年、大韓帝国(当時の国号)を保護国にし、統監府(初代統監・伊藤博文)を開設する。外交権剝奪(はくだつ)や軍隊解散など支配権限を段階的に強め、10年8月の併合条約で植民地にした。











あの海の向こうに ~植民地で教えた先生~②(全5回)

















 教育勅語 明治天皇から1890年に「下賜(かし)」され、親孝行などの徳目や、危急の事態には皇室の運命を助けるよう臣民に教示した。昭和の敗戦まで国民道徳や国民教育の根本理念とされた。戦後の1948年、衆院で排除、参院で失効確認の決議がされた。








あの海の向こうに ~植民地で教えた先生~③(全5回)




 創氏改名 朝鮮総督府が皇民化政策の一環で1939年、朝鮮民事令を改正し、40年に実施。朝鮮の姓名から日本式の氏名にするよう求めた。伝統的に祖先を重用する朝鮮の人々に対し、応じなければ不利益を被るとして職場や学校などを通して届け出を迫った。



















あの海の向こうに ~植民地で教えた先生~④(全5回)






















 在朝日本人 朝鮮には敗戦時、70万人超の日本人がいたとされるが、ソ連軍が占領した北緯38度以北からの引き揚げは困難を極め、飢えと寒さで大勢が死亡した。技術者らは当局が帰国を許可せず、朝鮮人男性と結婚した日本人女性など残留した人も少なくない。





あの海の向こうに ~植民地で教えた先生~⑤(全5回)



















 戦後補償 日韓は1965年の国交正常化で請求権協定を締結。日本政府は協定で「完全かつ最終的に解決された」との立場だ。一方、韓国大法院(最高裁)は2018年、元徴用工ら個人の請求権を認めて日本企業に賠償を命じ、外交問題になっている。



〈ゆく言葉が美しければ 返ってくる言葉も美しい〉