Photo/IllutrationTokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has angered organizers of an upcoming memorial service for Koreans massacred in the aftermath of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake by bucking tradition and declining to send a eulogy.

The metropolitan government’s construction bureau notified the private groups organizing the service at a Tokyo park of Koike's decision earlier this month.

“It was decided not to respond to an individual request since a public interest foundation sponsors a memorial service for all the victims killed in the earthquake on Sept. 1 (the anniversary of the quake),” a bureau official said.

Past Tokyo governors have sent eulogies for the annual Sept. 1 event by the groups, including Shintaro Ishihara, a conservative politician known for his remarks against Koreans and Chinese.

Koike, who was elected Tokyo governor in July 2016, also did so for last year’s memorial ceremony by the private groups.

Although she indicated a review of the practice in spring, her recent decision outraged event organizers, including the Japan-Korea Society, a citizens group working to improve relations between Japan and North and South Korea.

“We don’t understand why the governor made the flip-flop out of the blue,” said an individual, echoing other members who condemned her for her refusal.

In the Great Kanto Earthquake, which devastated wide areas of the Kanto region in and around Tokyo, many groundless rumors swirled such as “(Koreans) are poisoning the wells” and “Koreans are rioting” in the aftermath.

As a result, many Koreans and Chinese were massacred by vigilante groups, which consisted of residents, as well as the military and the police.

The Japan-Korea Society, the Japan-China Friendship Association, a public-interest entity, and other groups hold the memorial ceremony at the Yokoamicho park in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward to mark the anniversary of the disaster.

Last year, Koike said in her eulogy that “a large number of Korean residents were killed and suffered for no reason was a truly rare and heart-wrenching incident of our country’s history.”

Koike indicated that she may review the longtime practice when a metropolitan assembly member of the Liberal Democratic Party questioned the need for sending a eulogy for the event during an assembly session in March.

The assemblyman raised doubts about the groups’ claim in its literature that the victims of the massacre totaled “more than 6,000.”

In reply, Koike said, “The governor’s eulogy has been sent each year in practice. I will make an appropriate decision as to what to do from now on after going through the literature myself.”

The organizers for the memorial service asked the metropolitan government in May for a eulogy for this year’s event. The construction bureau, which oversees a ceremony on the metropolitan government's property, weighed the matter based on her remarks and decided against sending a eulogy. It was later approved by Koike.

Hideo Akaishi, who heads the secretariat of the Japan-Korea Society's Tokyo chapter, said the governor's decision is incomprehensible.

“Those who were killed in a natural disaster and those who were killed at the hands of people are different,” said Akaishi, 76. “I am not convinced of her explanation that (the metropolitan government) will memorialize them together.”

The Great Kanto Earthquake resulted in 100,500 deaths.