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Two Koreas' Buddhists urge Japan to return historic relics

The Korea Herald, May 23, 2009

Pyongyang, North Korea -- Buddhists leaders from South and North Korea jointly called on Japan on Friday to return historic relics that were taken away during the Japanese colonial occupation of the peninsula, Pyongyang's media said, according to Yonhap News.

The Buddhists adopted a joint statement at a religious service in Pyongyang's Kwangbop Temple, in which they "strongly urged Japan to ... unconditionally return Korean historic relics it had looted away," the Korean Central News Agency said.

South Korean Buddhists from the major Jogye Order, led by the Venerable Hyemun, are visiting Pyongyang as part of their regular trips to discuss ways to locate and bring back historic relics taken away during Japan's 1910-45 occupation.

The communist North has Buddhist temples and Christian churches in Pyongyang, but outside watchers question its claim of religious freedom.

Japan returned a historic stone monument it had looted a century ago to South Korea in 2005, and the South transferred it to its original home in North Korea's town of Kilju.

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