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Harvard professor Ramseyer to revise paper on 1923 massacre of Koreans in Japan: Cambridge handbook editor

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) — A Harvard professor, criticized for his depiction of victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery as prostitutes, will “significantly” revise another controversial paper on the 1923 massacre of Koreans in Japan, a co-editor of an academic handbook said Saturday.

In an email interview with Yonhap News Agency, Alon Harel, the co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Privatization — expected to be published in August — called the disputed content of the paper by J. Mark Ramseyer a “very regrettable mistake” and stressed that it will not appear in its original form.

“It was evidently an innocent and very regrettable mistake on our part,” Harel said in response to a question about his views on Ramseyer’s paper, entitled “Privatizing Police: Japanese Police, The Korean Massacre, And Private Security Firms.”

“I assure you that the paper will not appear in its original form in the collection … Ramsayer wrote to us that he read our comments (that were detailed and very critical) and will revise significantly the paper in accordance with these comments,” he added.

In the paper, Ramseyer of Harvard Law School, citing rumors, depicted Koreans at the time of the post-earthquake chaos around Tokyo in 1923 as “gangs” that “torched buildings, planted bombs, poisoned water supplies” and murdered and raped people.

He also cast doubts over the estimated number of Koreans killed in the massacre, which historians put at around 6,000.

The co-editor of the prospective Cambridge handbook noted that while he was fully aware about the atrocities against Koreans during World War II, he and his co-editor were not familiar with historical events before the war during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

“We assumed that Professor Ramsayer knows the history better than us. In the meantime, we have learnt a lot about the events and we sent a list of detailed comments on the paper that were written by professional historians and lawyers,” he said.

But Harel emphasized that once they learned about detailed historical events that happened to Korean victims, “we took immediate action to repair the damage as much as possible.”

“Avihay and I genuinely regret that a misguided description of the history can be found now in the SSRN (and that we are associated with it), but I assure you that the mistake will not be repeated in the forthcoming volume,” he said, referring to his co-editor, Avihay Dorfman of Tel Aviv University Law School.

SSRN is the Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection.

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