Korea Demands Tokyo’s Return of Chosun Prince Armor

Posted on May 3, 2012


The Tokyo National Museum has acknowledged it holds a set of armor and headpiece worn by a Chosun prince, which Korean civil organizations allege was illegally exported during Japan’s rule of Korea. The Museum has  argued that the 1,100 Korean antiquities in the Okura collection should not be returned because they were privately owned before being donated to the Museum.

During the 1965 Normalization Treaty, Korea requested the return of the Okura Collection due to the fact that the artifacts were illegally taken into Japan. Japan refused, claiming that it was a private collection. The Okura collection was assembled by Japanese businessman Okura Takenosuke during the colonial period. In 1981, Takenosuke’s son donated the entire collection to the Tokyo museum.

According to Japan’s national cultural heritage authority, four national museums in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Kyushu house 4,422 artifacts from the Korean Peninsula. Some have said that Japan has more Korean cultural property than Korea does, thanks to Japan’s imperialist expansion in the first half of the 20th century. Japan’s rule of Korea officially lasted from 1905 to 1945, during which time great quantities of ancient objects were removed from Korea. Korea has sought return of these objects with little success given the 1965 Normalization Treaty, which was supposed to recompense Korea for Japan’s imperial rule.

Read the full article Tokyo Museum Admits Holding More Korean Artifacts.

Thanks to Kristina Bauer for her assistance with this post.