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Seoul confirms identities of 95 Koreans killed in 1945 Tokyo bombing
SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean government panel on Tuesday confirmed the identities of 95 Koreans killed during the massive U.S. bombing on Tokyo during World War II, making them the first group of Korean victims whose identities are known.

   The government committee for probing cases of forced mobilization of Koreans during the Japanese colonial period and helping those killed in the duration of the forced service said it has found the identities in the course of looking into some 220,000 reports from South Koreans who or whose family members allegedly fell victim to the forced mobilization.

   The bombing of Tokyo, often referred to as a "firebombing," was conducted as part of the air raids on Japan by the U.S. Air Forces during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. Some 340 B-29 bombers dropped 2,400 tons of bombs in the densely populated Tokyo area on March 9-10, 1945, killing at least 100,000 residents. South Korean and Japanese historians say approximately 40,000 to 50,000 Korean residents in the area were victimized and at least 10,000 of them were killed. Korea was a colony of Japan from 1910 to 1945.

   The committee withheld the names of the 95 Korean dead from the media but released information on their native places, names of factories where they worked and the period of their working in Tokyo.

   The information was acquired based on the Japanese government registers of Korean forced workers and interviews with their bereaved family members, the committee said.

   The victims were unable to escape to safety when the raids were made since they were confined collectively in dormitories of the factories where they worked, the committee said. Ninety of them were killed on the spot and 13 of the confirmed Korean victims were under the age 18, it added.

   "Japan has widely publicized the U.S. raids on Tokyo as a major case of its damage from the war along with the two atomic bombings on the country by annually broadcasting special TV programs on the raids but does not recognize Korean dead from the incident," a committee official said. "The government needs to do something (to change their position)."

   The committee said it plans to ask for related documents from the Japanese government to find more Korean victims of the raids and their families. The committee will then seek Japan's return of the victims' remains through consultation with the foreign ministry, it said.

   sshim@yna.co.kr
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