The February 8 Independence Declaration Memorial Hall
Since its founding in 1906, the Korean YMCA in Japan has consistently evolved as part of the history of resident Korean society in Japan. We are determined to continue walking alongside the annually increasing foreigners, including those of Korean heritage, resident in Japan as well as social minorities and the socially disadvantaged. But we have also expanded our field of vision; we have resolved to expand our efforts toward “reconciliation and coexistence” from Japan, Korea and Asia to the world. As one of our projects to commemorate the centennial of the February 8 Declaration of Independence in February 2019, we opened the “February 8 Independence Declaration Memorial Research Materials Room” in May 2008. With the cooperation of the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, we have moved the exhibit room, renovated its exhibit and formed a new “February 8 Declaration of Independence Memorial Hall.”
The February 8 Declaration of Independence, which may be called the spiritual pillar of the resident Korean community in Japan, was not merely an independence declaration; through international cooperation, it led to the March First Movement and contributed to the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai and was also carried on through national independence movements in and out of Korea. There were also Japanese intellectuals, such as the Japanese lawyers who struggled to aid the students arrested after the February 8 Declaration of Independence, who symbolized the democracy movement of Japan’s Taishō period (1912-26) through their efforts to understand and cooperate in Korea’s independence movement. As a lesson of history, we would like to keep in mind that even in adverse times a trend toward genuine Japanese-Korean co-existence existed.
It is our fondest hope that the February 8 Independence Memorial Research Hall will carry on this history and also strive to expand further the movement toward “reconciliation and co-existence” by being a place to heighten young people’s awareness of history and for cultural encounters and learning. We hope that you that you will take an interest in this research hall and help support it.