At 3 PM on December 13, 2017, People Making Jeju to be a Demilitarized Peace Island and Inter-Island Solidarity for Peace of the Sea co-hosted the fourth annual Nanjing Massacre 80th Anniversary Memorial at Alddreu Airfield, in Daejeong, Jeju, remembering and facing the tragedy of war, pledging to eliminate the factors that make war possible, aspiring together for peace in Northeast Asia, and honoring the souls of the victims.
80 years ago, Japanese fighter planes bombed the city of Nanjing in preparation for their invasion in which 300,000 (mostly Chinese civilians) were killed over the course of 6 weeks. The planes used Alddreu Airfield in Jeju, which was built by the forced labor of over 70,000 local people. Remembering this past, 50 people gathered on December 13 at Alddreu Airfield and declared that Jeju must not be used for making war and causing so much suffering again. With no navy base and no second airport we must make Jeju a real peace island.
During the ceremony there was music and dance, poems, a solidarity message sent from Okinawa, short speeches from Daejeong Women Farmers’ Association, from the Seongsan struggle against the second Jeju airport/air force base and from Gangjeong, a presentation of thirty flowers to honor the victims, and a memorial statement.
We remember December 13, 1937, eighty years ago today. The massacre, rape, murder and looting by the Japanese in Nanjing. There was no humanity in that place. For 300,000 lives that cannot be summed up in one figure, we offer a silent prayer for their deaths. We remember this tragedy.
First of all, Jeju was used as a springboard for the massacre. Japan mobilized over 70,000 Jeju residents to build the 198 hectare (490 acre) airfield. Alddreu Airfield was a stronghold for Japan to cross the sea to bomb cities such as Nanjing and Shanghai. With a total of 36 airstrikes, 600 flights and 300 tons of bombs departing from Jeju, countless Nanjing civilians were wounded and killed.
Now, 80 years later US warships and nuclear submarines are frequenting the navy base in Gangjeong. The problem has arisen of air force plans to use the Jeju second airport. Not only is “Island of Peace Jeju” a facetious title, but one cannot help but suspect that the island is an outpost of the US against China. Is Jeju, and is the Korean peninsula, then and now just a place of strategic military importance for powerful countries?
There is surely no peace that came through war. So that there will be no more Nanjing Massacres, we remember that bloody history and how Jeju was mobilized in that day. Jeju must become a demilitarized peace island for the peace of East Asia and the whole world. We must preserve our right to live peacefully.
People Making Jeju a Demilitarized Peace Island, Inter-Island Solidarity for Peace of the Sea
(More photos and event information in Korean at: http://cafe.daum.net/peacekj/496a/1790)