Thursday, July 14, 2005

A fight to the death: One of Japan's longest-running legal feuds reignites amid worsening ties with Korea

from the Japan Times:

Her bony, 80-year-old body floating around inside a nylon shirt and cigarette permanently clamped between what appear to be her two remaining front teeth, Kan Kyon Nam is an unlikely illegal squatter.

But frail or not, if the bulldozers come she wants it known there'll be trouble. "If they try to evict me and demolish my house, I'll die under it," she says. "There's no point in trying to stay alive at my age."

Fighting talk comes easy to the older residents of Utoro, a tiny Korean village of rickety houses in Uji City, Kyoto, which has been struggling to avoid being wiped from the map for over half a century.

One of Japan's longest-running social disputes, Utoro has been largely forgotten here, but across the Japan Sea this community of 230 people is seen by many as a living symbol of the hardships of Korean immigrants.

Now, against a background of soured bilateral relations, the village is back in the media spotlight.


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