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(LEAD) Police, activists clash over statue for forced labor victims near Japanese consulate in Busan

2018/05/01 13:10

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(ATTN: ADDS protesters's injury in 4th para)

BUSAN, May 1 (Yonhap) -- Police clashed Tuesday with activists who attempted to erect a statue symbolizing Korean victims of forced labor under Japan's colonial rule in front of the Japanese Consulate in the southern city of Busan.

Some 100 activists began to move the statue of a gaunt Korean laborer toward the Japanese mission late Monday despite disapproval by the local government.

About 500 police officers blocked them some 100 meters from the location and their standoff continued through the night.

Early Monday, police broke up their street sit-in, citing a law that bans rallies within 100 meters from a foreign mission. The two sides scuffled and 10 protesters were injuried, witnesses said.

Police block activists from moving a statue symbolizing Korean victims of forced labor under Japan's colonial rule in Busan on May 1, 2018. (Yonhap) Police block activists from moving a statue symbolizing Korean victims of forced labor under Japan's colonial rule in Busan on May 1, 2018. (Yonhap)

The members of a coalition of Busan civic groups had planned to install the statue on May Day next to a statue of a girl symbolizing the victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery, which was established by a South Korean civic group on Dec. 30, 2016.

The Busan city government disallowed it, citing a road and traffic law and proposed an alternative site for the installation, which the activists rejected.

The Japanese government also expressed regret and called on the Seoul government to prevent them from erecting the statue.

Historians say that millions of Koreans were coerced into labor during Japan's rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

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