Japanese Ambassador Returns to Korea After 85 Day Absence

Look who is back in town:

Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine tells reporters that he plans to strongly request for the implementation of the Korea-Japan agreement to resolve the so-called comfort women issue after he arrives at the Gimpo International Airport Tuesday evening nearly three months after being recalled to Tokyo. [YONHAP]

Tokyo’s top envoy to South Korea returned to Seoul Tuesday, nearly three months after he was called in home due to diplomatic friction over a girl statue symbolizing the victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery of Korean women.

The Japanese government recalled Amb. Yasumasa Nagamine in January in protest over the statue that civic groups erected in front of its consulate in the southern port city of Busan.

The Japanese ambassador arrived at Gimpo International Airport shortly before 10 p.m. Japanese Consul General in Busan Yasuhiro Morimoto, who was also recalled over the dispute, came back hours earlier.

Tokyo claimed that the statue built before its consulate, along with another one standing in front of its embassy in Seoul, runs counter to a landmark deal reached between the two countries in late 2015 to resolve the long-running rift over Japan’s atrocity of forcing Korean women into front-line brothels during World War II.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

US Supreme Court Denies Japanese Attempt to Remove Comfort Woman Statue In California

This does seem pretty stupid for the Japanese government to oppose this statue since it is sitting in a public park and not right in front of a Japanese embassy or consulate like we have seen in Korea.  How would the Japanese public feel if the US launched a lawsuit to take down statues remembering atomic bombing victims?:

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce places a bouquet on a bench next to the bronze comfort woman statue in Glendale, California, in January 2014. / Korea Times file

The U.S. Supreme Court has dismissed Japanese government efforts to remove from California a “comfort women” statue that symbolizes victims of Japan’s sexual slavery during World War II.

The court on Monday decided not to review the case brought by U.S. plaintiffs who were supported by the Japanese government. It ended Japan’s three-year bid to remove the statue. U.S. politicians involved in the case and civil rights groups applauded the decision.

Glendale’s comfort woman statue is the first erected outside Korea.

U.S. Republican Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Japan Times: “By remembering the past, including the women who suffered immensely, we help ensure these atrocities are never committed again.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Anti-Japan Protest In South Korea

Rally against Seoul-Tokyo deal over comfort women

A protester expresses her objection to a 2015 Seoul-Tokyo landmark deal to settle the issue of elderly Korean women who were sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II, as she takes part in a rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on March 22, 2017, to support the former “comfort women.” (Yonhap)

Why Do South Koreans Hate the Japanese So Much?

Here is an interesting theory on why South Koreans hate the Japanese so much:

Korean school children draw anti-Japanese pictures to post at a subway station.

If South Korea can only weakly legitimate itself through democracy, and with race-nationalism so powerful, Seoul must go head-to-head with Pyongyang over who is the best custodian of the minjok and its glorious 5000 year history. This is a tussle South Korea cannot win, not only because of the North’s mendacious willingness to falsify history, but South Korea’s Westernized culture, massive U.S. presence, rising multiculturalism leading to mixed race citizens, and so on.

The North’s purer minjok nationalism will always have resonance in the South, where for a generation former dictator Park Chung Hee invoked race for legitimacy, 10% of the public voted for an openly pro-North Korean party in the last parliamentary election, and the main left-wing party has consistently equivocated on whether the U.S. represents a greater threat to South Korea than North Korea does.

Enter Japan, then, as a useful ‘other’ to South Korea, in the place that really should be held by North Korea. All Koreans, north and south, right and left, agree that the colonial take-over was bad. The morality of criticizing Japan is undisputed, whereas criticizing North Korea quickly gets tangled up in the ‘who-can-out-minjok-who’ issues raised above.   [The National Interest]

I recommend reading the whole article at the link, but likewise the anti-Japanese hatred is irrational when compared to the Chinese as well.  The Chinese are actively conducting anti-Korean initiatives because of the THAAD issue, have a territorial dispute with Korea, are the chief benefactor of North Korea, a country committed to the destruction of the ROK, and China was the last country to invade the ROK and nearly destroyed it during the Korean War.  Heck the Chinese embassy even sent protestors into the streets of Seoul to beatdown Koreans during the Olympic torch protest.

Despite all of this, hatred is directed towards the Japanese who should be a natural geopolitical ally.  I have always believed that the persistent anti-Japanese sentiment and rotating bouts of anti-US sentiment is because South Koreans know they can protest both countries without repercussions.  As the current THAAD dispute shows the Chinese government does not sit idly by without retaliating against Korea, likewise for North Korea.  If South Koreans push North Korea too much a ROK ship may get sunk or artillery rounds may land in the ROK.  Protest Japan or the United States and little to nothing happens.  That makes both countries easy targets to direct Korean nationalism towards especially for domestic political reasons.

I don’t expect this dynamic to change unless South Koreans are put into a position where they have to forgive and forget with Japan for national security reasons.  As long as the US-ROK alliance this is something Koreans do not have to worry about.

Japanese Kindergarten Accused of Promoting Hate of Korea and China

What this Japanese Kindergarten is doing is wrong, but South Korea has little creditability to complain considering the anti-Japanese hatred taught to kids in their country:

Screen shot from Tsukamoto Kindergarten’s website. / Yonhap

Tsukamoto Kindergarten, a preschool in Osaka city, Japan, is being investigated for allegedly handing out flyers containing hate speech against Koreans living in Japan and against Chinese people, Kyodo News reported on Thursday.

“Korean residents in Japan and Chinese people are devious,” read the flyer that the kindergarten allegedly distributed.

Kyodo News also pointed out that the flyer called Chinese people “shinajin,” a derogatory term.

The kindergarten is known to have sent out flyers in December 2016, criticizing Korean residents in Japan.

“The problem is that people, who are Korean at heart, reside in Japan as Japanese,” read the flyer.

The school has previously been criticized for making students memorize the “Imperial Edict on Education,” used during Japan’s imperial rule of other countries.

During a field day in 2015, the school also allegedly made students take an oath blaming Korea and China for making Japan a malevolent nation.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but the Osaka government has sent a warning to the school to stop their anti-Korea and China activities.  Has the Korean government ever warned any of their schools to stop anti-Japanese activities?

Korean school children post anti-Japanese art at a subway station.