Japan observed the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Tokyo in a small ceremony on Tuesday, according to local press reports. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
March 10 (UPI) -- A North Korean group claiming to represent Korean victims of Japanese colonial policy and their families demanded an apology from the Japanese government on Tuesday.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported the North Korean association of victims and families are also calling for compensation and the return of Korean remains, on the 75th anniversary of the firebombing of Tokyo by the U.S. military during World War II.
On Tuesday, the North Korean group said ethnic Koreans were the unjust victims of the deadly aerial attacks.
"In the midst of a war of invasion caused by the Japanese imperialists, countless numbers of Koreans were wrongly sacrificed during the U.S. airstrike of Tokyo," the group said.
The North Korean association also claimed more than 8.4 million Koreans were taken by force, drafted into the military or taken as "slave labor" by Japanese forces, following the second Sino-Japanese War that took placed between 1937 and 1945.
The group added that on March 10, 1945, after enduring "abuse, starvation and sickness" in wartime Japan, more than 10,000 Koreans died during the airstrike, and tens of thousands of Koreans were wounded during the attack, according to KCNA.
The Japanese government has yet to confirm the identities of the victims and has not offered to return their remains, North Korean state media said.
The 75th anniversary of the firebombing was marked quietly in Japan on Tuesday, amid the coronavirus outbreak, Kyodo News reported.
The attack is believed to have killed about 100,000 people. Tokyo's Sumida Ward, where the remains of "unidentified victims" have been placed, served as a site of a small ceremony, following cancellations. Japan's Crown Prince Akishino, Crown Princess Kiko and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike had declined to attend as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the country.
"We have the responsibility to prevent the tragic memories of the war damage from fading," said Masami Higaki, chairman of the organization hosting the memorial service, according to Kyodo.