On August 24, 1945, Ukishima Maru (4,730 tons) of a cargo ship retreated to the Japanese Navy at Maizuru Port near Kyoto, Japan, sank with a sudden explosion. At the time, private ships such as merchant ships were forced to use “maru” as a suffix when naming ships.In Japan, this is just a private ship. In many cases, it is called by the following name. As a result, the Ukishima-maru incident is rarely called domestically, and it is called the Ukishima-ho, the Ukishima-ho, and the Budo-ho.
After Japan declared its surrender on August 15, 1945, the Japanese government feared that the forced Korean workers would riot during the war crimes trial. In response, they ordered a top secret: “Repatriate Korean workers before the riots.” He even threw a leaflet that says, “If you don’t get on this repatriation boat, you won’t be able to return forever.”
The original order given to Ukishimamaru, which was recruited by the Navy and driven by the crew of the navy, was to bring the Japanese inhabited by Joseon, but the order was changed so that Ukishimamaru could also send Korean workers in northern Japan to Busan. Fell down. Some naval sergeants of the crew protested the order, but the strong instructions from the crew forced Korean workers and some families to board Ukishima-maru.
About 7,000 Koreans left Ominato Port in Aomori Prefecture on August 21.
At that time, the waters of Japan were a land mine laid by the US Navy, and submarines of the US Navy and the Soviet Navy were roaming. The day after Ukishima Maru’s departure, three ships were sunk by an unknown submarine.
In South Korea, “the explosion of Ukishima-maru is a deliberate crime of the Japanese navy.” The crew of Ukishima-maru strongly protested and protested the order to board Koreans on Ukishima-maru because they feared retaliation by angry Koreans when the ship arrived in Busan. So the Korean view is that the Japanese navy installed bombs on Ukishima-maru and then bombed them.
According to the testimony of the passengers at the time, the Japanese Navy said, “You can’t get a ration unless you ride Ukishima-maru.” Some Koreans didn’t want to go, but they were forcibly burned. However, this is not a sure reason for the slaughter. It may be a story in the heart of sending out Koreans quickly.
At the end of the turn, Ukishima-maru picked up Koreans and headed for Busan Port, but suddenly he turned to Maizuru Port on the 24th.
The two sides also differ in the context of the sinking. The Japanese say the crew led the passengers to the deck, but the survivor Chae Gil-young left in 1946, the year after the incident, is the opposite. “While the crew members drove underneath the ships suddenly, the crews left the ship on Ukishimamaru’s ship and the ship exploded after that.” Another survivor, Kang Yi-soon, also testified that “the crew members at that time disappeared, and the crews flocked to the engine room just before the ship exploded.” However, Kang Lee-soon’s testimony did not say that the crew forced the Koreans into the dock, and made it clear that “I was on top of the ship.” It is also possible to argue that if the crew knew in advance that the ship would explode, there would be no reason for the crew to sink into the least-giving engine.
The evidence that Ukishima-maru was not caused by mines but by internal explosives came from the survivors’ testimony. The survivors testify that “the explosion sounded three or four times.” It’s strange that if the mine is exploded, it will sound three or four times. In addition, there should be several tens of meters of water that appear when an explosion is caused by a mine, but there was no such thing. Even if it was a mine, it is doubtful that Japan, who knew the mine existed, tried to sail.
It is also suggested as a basis for self-destruction that in 1954, when Japanese companies lifted their hulls, the hulls of the ships were all bent outwards. If it exploded in contact with the torpedo, it should be bent inward, but the hulls of Ukishimamaru were all bent outward. This means that there is no choice but to think that an explosion occurred inside the hull.
Ukishima Maru departed from Ominato Port in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan and headed for Busan. Common sense is the fastest route from northern Japan to Busan is across the East Sea. Strangely, however, Ukishimamaru descended along the coast of the Japanese archipelago.
This is not understandable considering that mines are laid off the coast of Japan. On the contrary, Ukishima-maru descended along the coast of the Japanese archipelago, although it would have been quick and safe to take common sense crossing the East Sea. Japan claims to have taken such a route away from mines and submarine activities, but South Korea suspects it was intended to go to Busan in the first place.
It is alleged that Ukishima-maru suddenly turned to Maizuru Port. Ukishima-maru, heading for Busan, turned to Maizuru Port on August 24. In response, Japan ordered the Ominato Security Department and the captain of Ukishima-maru from the Naval Transportation Headquarters to enter the nearby port because it seems impossible to enter Busan by 6 pm on August 24th. Maru claims to have turned to Maizuru following this order. In addition, the schedule was scheduled to take into account factors such as mines and the threat of submarines.
In Korea, however, he points out that “the reason for changing to Maizuru is not common sense.” I doubt that the Japanese military had intentionally turned to Maizuru. In fact, some survivors were told that the ship was not going to Busan, but to Wonsan.
Japan officially announced that “3,725 Koreans repatriated on Ukishima-maru and 255 Navy servicemen, among which 524 Koreans and 25 crew members were killed.” However, since Japan did not make a boarding list, it is not certain how many people boarded and died. In short, the number of passengers and deaths officially announced by Japan is very different. And survivors argue that “more Koreans were riding on Ukishima-maru than the number officially announced by Japan.”
It is not clear from the testimony of the survivors, but about 7,000 to 7,500 Koreans were riding on Ukishima-maru. Chae Gil-young claimed that as many as 12,000 people were on board. Although the number of deaths is not accurate, there are claims that at least 1,000, and between 3,000 and 4,000, and even 5,000, have died from the testimony of survivors and local residents.
After the incident, the Japanese government reported the incident to Allied Command and reported that the death toll was 256. That’s fewer than the 524 mentioned in the official announcement. Again, I don’t know exactly how many people boarded and died because Japan hadn’t made a boarding list.
In addition, in 1954, Japan allowed Ukishima Maru to lift its hull to a private company, ignoring the demands of Koreans to investigate the facts. The salvaged hull was then sold as scrap to a private company without any investigation.
Later, more than 300 bones were returned as remains of the Ukishima-maru’s death, but investigations have revealed mixed remains of several people.
In 1977, the Ukishima-maru incident began to be known to the world as the documentary appeared on Japanese public broadcaster NHK. Subsequently, in 1992, survivors and survivors filed a lawsuit in Japanese court demanding compensation for the case.
On August 23, 2001, the Kyoto District Court ruled to pay 15 million yen per person to 15 survivors for violating the Japanese government’s obligations to consider safety, but the Japanese government’s request for apology was dismissed. However, even this ruling was overturned by the Osaka High Court in 2003, which resulted in the decision of the plaintiff. For reference, one of the reasons for the dismissal of the Japanese court was the Japan-Japan Treaty. Even if it is the responsibility of the Japanese government, compensation is over by the Japan-Japan Basic Treaty.
However, even if the accident is correct as Japan claims, it is questionable whether the Japanese government can evade responsibility for the case. Nevertheless, the Korean government is not clear about the fact-finding request or damage compensation.
On the other hand, translator Lee Yun-gi explored the cost of the victims of the incident. It was said that they drank a lot and cried a lot while thinking about the victims that night.
Currently, there are sculptures in memory of the victims of both Korea and Japan. In Korea, there is a victim’s memorial fee (2005) in Sumir Park, Jungang-dong, Busan.
In 2016, Kim Mun-gil, director of the Korea-Japan Cultural Research Institute, obtained and released documents from the Japan Defense Agency, which were allegedly loaded with explosives.
Four months after the accident in 2019, an investigation report made by the Allied request stated that Japanese crew members could not give their lives because of the Koreans before sailing, and condemned that they would never oppose sailing in dangerous zones. Intentional suspicion arose as the ‘bombing declaration’ was made to give his life.