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Harvard professor's paper on Kanto Massacre angers South Koreans

A Harvard Law professor who drew attention for a paper on comfort women also authored a paper on the killing of Koreans during a Japanese earthquake in 1923, according to South Korean press reports Wednesday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
A Harvard Law professor who drew attention for a paper on "comfort women" also authored a paper on the killing of Koreans during a Japanese earthquake in 1923, according to South Korean press reports Wednesday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 17 (UPI) -- A Harvard Law professor who came under criticism at his institution for characterizing Japanese wartime brothels as a system of consensual prostitution is riling South Korean activists for another article published in 2019.

J. Mark Ramseyer, a Mitsubishi professor of Japanese legal studies at Harvard, authored the paper, "Privatizing Police: Japanese Police, the Korean Massacre, and Private Security Firms" in June 2019.

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In the paper on public security, Ramseyer used the historical incident known as the 1923 Kanto Massacre and the slaying of ethnic Koreans in Japan to build his argument, South Korean network YTN reported Wednesday.

Ramseyer did not deny local bands of Japanese vigilantes "killed Koreans" in his 2019 paper, but citing Japanese reports published at the time, Ramseyer said the ethnic Koreans, mostly young men, "torched buildings, planted bombs, poisoned water supplies, murdered, pillaged and raped."

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Ramseyer's use of Japanese newspaper claims, disputed among historians and blamed for the deaths and persecution of innocent people, is drawing renewed criticism in South Korea.

The Harvard professor recently drew outcry in Korea for his paper on "comfort women," and describing the women as participating in a "consensual, contractual process."

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Park Ki-tae, a South Korean activist with the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, told YTN Ramseyer's scholarship reflected the beliefs of the Japanese right wing.

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The Japanese political faction has denied sexual slavery occurred in wartime brothels and has also claimed the number of people massacred after the 1923 Kanto earthquake are exaggerated.

South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Wednesday that the Koreans who lived in Japan during a period of brutal colonial occupation were the victims of unfounded rumors, including claims the ethnic minority group was "poisoning wells" in Japan.

In his 2019 article Ramseyer states "young Koreans were a high crime group in Japan," including anti-colonial leaders who were seeking independence from imperial rule.

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The paper is to be published in August by Cambridge University Press, according to the Hankyoreh.

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