believe that Rev. Moon is the greatest benefactor for ethnic Koreans who are permanent residents of Japan. He understands our hearts more than anyone else, and loves and cares for us more than anyone else. Words cannot describe my deep gratitude to him.
Koreans who are permanent residents in Japan are called Zainichi. Numbering approximately 610,000, we constitute the largest ethnic minority group in Japan. In a strict sense, Zainichi means long-term, permanent residents of Japan who emigrated from the Korean peninsula before and during WW II and refused to be naturalized in Japan after the war, and their descendants. More broadly, the term includes naturalized ethnic Koreans and recent immigrants from South Korea.
We are diaspora Koreans whose history goes back to the early twentieth century under the rule of Japanese imperial government. In 1910, when the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was concluded, all Korean people became subjects of Imperial Japan. Because Japanese confiscated Korean farmers’ land and produce during the 1910s, many Koreans emigrated to Japan for economic reasons during the 1920s. Although Korean immigrants in mainland Japan officially had equal civil rights as Japanese citizens, there was substantial discrimination.
From 1939 to 1945, during World War II, the shortage of labor in mainland Japan led the Japanese government to recruit Koreans for work in Japan. Many of them were mobilized by coercion or deception and obliged to work in factories and coal mines, often under terrible conditions. Most of the wartime laborers went home after the war, but some remained.
Since Korea was under Japanese rule, Korean immigrants were still Japanese nationals in 1945. When Japan surrendered to the Allied forces, the nationality of Zainichi Koreans was ambiguous. The occupation of Japan by Allied forces ended in April 28, 1952, with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, in which Japan officially renounced its territorial claim to the Korean peninsula. Following this, Zainichi Koreans officially lost their Japanese nationality.
In 1948, the northern and southern parts of Korea declared independence respectively. This led to division among Koreans in Japan: Mindan (Korean Residents Union in Japan), connected to South Korea, whose members re-registered their citizenship of the Republic of Korea; and Chosen Soren (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) connected to North Korea. Since there are no diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea, Chosen Soren has been North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan. Sixty-five percent of Korean residents in Japan are members of Mindan, and thirty-five percent are members of Chosen Soren.
Members of Chosen Soren have aggressively kept their ethnic identity, operating a university and sixty schools teaching the Korean language and pro-North Korean ideology. Although Mindan has a school system for the children of its members, it has been always less widespread and organized.
Chosen Soren openly pledges allegiance to the North Korean ideology; it opposes integration of Koreans into Japanese society, so it was always controversial in Japan. Because of this strong ideological orientation, it was the dominant Zainichi group in the 1970s.
I was born in Uljin County of North Gyeongsang Province, in eastern South Korea, and came to Japan in 1937 at the age of seventeen. After World War II, I joined Mindan and became an activist. In the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese society was shaken by opposition to the 1960 revision of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. This movement consisted of communists and socialists, including some radical and violent sects. As an activist for Mindan, I was fighting an ideological battle against Communist Chosen Soren at that time.
In 1958, Rev. Moon sent a missionary to Japan, even though just maintaining his church in Korea was then very difficult, and within a year his movement began to take root in Japan. In 1968, Rev. Moon initiated the International Federation for Victory over Communism in both Korea and Japan to defend the free world from Communist invasion. Rev. Moon could consider Japan an enemy country because it colonized his fatherland and tortured him for his role in the independence movement. It is amazing that he established an organization to protect the "enemy country" from Communist invasion.
In the early 1970s I encountered young Japanese members of IFVOC. I was impressed by their pure minds and sincere concern for the future of Japan and the world. Since they were educated by Rev. Moon, they had no prejudice against Zainichi Koreans. Furthermore, they loved us and sacrificed themselves to protect us. Who except Rev. Moon can educate Japanese young people like them? We formed a united front against Communism.
Rev. Moon had a special interest in Zainichi Koreans and kindly invited many young Mindan members to the United States in the 1974 and 1975 to learn his unique critique of Communism. I helped recruit 600 young people for four such seminars.
I visited the United States in 1976, when Rev. Moon held a gigantic rally in Washington, D.C. That was my first personal encounter with him. These seminars taught not only the theoretical errors of Communist ideology but also the value of freedom and democracy which was embodied in American society. Without a strong philosophical basis for opposing Communist ideology, Mindan was inferior to Chosen Soren and its strong ideological foundation. If Rev. Moon had not helped Mindan unite under the flag of anti-Communism, it would have been vulnerable. By uniting with IFVOC, Mindan could survive the struggle with Chosen Soren in the 1970s. In this sense, Rev. Moon is the greatest benefactor for Mindan.
In the post-Cold War era, Rev. Moon’s movement shifted from defending the free world against Communism to loving and saving people of the former Communist countries. He met Mikhail Gorbachev and Kim Il Sung for that purpose.
After the collapse of Soviet Union, North Korea became isolated and Chosen Soren declined. I also began to reflect on my past and noticed that I had been living for only the southern half of my fatherland. In reality, my fatherland is the whole Korean peninsula, so I have to live for its northern half and its unification.
On July 4, 2004, Rev. Moon inaugurated the Federation for Peace and Unification (FPU) in Japan to reconcile Mindan and Chosen Soren. The motto of the organization is "Peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula begins from the unity of Mindan and Chosen Soren in Japan." In August 2006, I was installed as its second president.
We took 13,100 Mindan and Chosen Soren on tours to our fatherland in 2004 and 2005, holding brotherhood/sisterhood ceremonies at Im Jin Gak on the DMZ. We offered prayers for the reunification of our fatherland and for the reconciliation of Mindan and Chosen Soren.
In July 2006, FPU held a seminar in the United States for 120 high-level Zainichi Korean leaders. We visited the White House, the Capitol, Korean War Memorial, and the UN headquarters, and institutions founded by Rev. Moon such as The Washington Times, Atlantic Video, Universal Ballet Academy and Bridgeport University. We heard that The Washington Times is the first newspaper the U.S. president reads in the morning. We were overwhelmed by the foundation established by Rev. Moon in America, and as Koreans we felt proud of it.
During this seminar, Archbishop George Stallings said, "Not only I but many Christian ministers embrace and love Rev. and Mrs. Moon; we receive them in the role of Messiah, Savior, the Lord of the Second Coming." Rev. Walter Fauntroy compared the Korean residents in Japan to African-Americans. "We are diasporas," he said. "We have to play the role of Joseph in the Bible."
He described Joseph as the model of those who left home and suffered a lot in a strange land. Overcoming powerful resentment and desire for revenge, Joseph stood up to say to his brothers: "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life." (Genesis 45:4-5) We realized that God sent us to Japan in order to stand up for the reunification of our fatherland and save the lives of our brothers and sisters there.
One of the American disciples of Rev. Moon, said, "I wish I could be a Korean like Rev. Moon." I never heard such a statement from a Japanese, and it was beyond imagination to hear such a statement from an American. Since I have experienced continuous discrimination as a Korean in Japanese society, this statement shocked and moved me. Someone said that his long-term resentment was solved by this statement. Who except Rev. Moon can educate Americans like him?
On May 17, 2006, Chosen Soren and Mindan agreed to reconcile, but within a month this agreement broke down due to Mindan’s distrust of Chosen Soren. North Korea’s missile tests in July deepened the divide. Thus, the historic reconciliation failed. I believe it failed because it came from human endeavor. Genuine and sustainable reconciliation between Mindan and Chosen Soren must come from God’s providence. In other words, Rev. Moon and the Federation for Peace and Unification must be involved with the process. I would like to devote the rest of my life to this great cause.