China / Society

Chinese NGO seeks return of ancient relic from Japan

( Updated: 2014-08-11 14:38

Chinese NGO seeks return of ancient relic from Japan
In a unprecedented move, a Chinese non-governmental organization recently made an appeal to the Japanese royal family, asking it to return a relic that was looted by the Japanese forces from China more than a century ago, reported Beijing News.

The relic is an inscribed stele which was made to commemorate Tang Empire's conferment of the title of king on the ruler of Bohai State, a branch of Tang (618-907), in northeast China. The tablet is the only remaining relic that bears testimony to Tang's jurisdiction over the area.

In 1908, the stone was plundered by the Japanese forces after defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and has been displayed in the imperial palace of Japan ever since.

As the year 2014 marks another Jiawu year after China's defeat in the first Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), or the War of Jiawu, 120 years ago -- 60 years is a full circle for recording times in Chinese calendar -- it is a meaningful timing to put forward the claim, said Tong Zeng, head of China Association for Compensation Claim against Japan, an NGO that helps victims seek war reparations from Japan.

In fact, there is no lack of example for victimized countries of war to demand the return of looted relics.

In May 2005, a stone monument that was erected up in the 16th century in honor of Korea's success in war against the Japanese invaders was returned to the Republic of Korea by the Japanese government at the request of the ROK government.

The CACCJ will try to consult Korean experts that are experienced in bringing looted relics back to where it belongs, said Tong.

The road for the Chinese NGO to retrieve relics abroad will not be smooth despite the successful precedent set by the ROK and some other nations.

"There are not legally-binding international conventions on returning of looted relics, and the retrieval of robbed relics is generally handled by a nation's government rather than civil organizations which lack legal status in dealing with such issues," said Guan Jianqiang, a law professor in East China University of Political Science and Law, adding that how to take looted relics back home remains a challenging issue.

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