For being a supposed Asia expert, Joshua Ramo made quite the blunder with his statements about Korea and Japan during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics:
NBC Sports analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo has been relieved from its PyeongChang Olympic coverage after enraging many Koreans with ignorant remarks about their country.
An NBC Sports spokesperson, who refused to be named, told The Korea Times Sunday that Ramo has been removed from the role.
“It was possible for him to do more with us here; now it is no longer possible,” the official said.
Ramo angered Koreans here and overseas by saying during the opening ceremony on Friday, “Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.”
NBC apologized for the comment.
“NBC issued an apology in a written letter to the PyeongChang Organizing Committee, and on air, regarding the comments made by one of our presenters during our coverage of the opening ceremony,” the official said. “NBC has great respect and admiration for South Korea and its people.”
The official explained that NBC hired Ramo “to serve as an Asia expert during the opening ceremony. His role was to give an overview to our viewers of the host country and this region of the world.” [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but problem number is one is to claim “every Korean will tell you”. It would be more accurate to say some Koreans may believe Japan was important to the development of South Korea, but many other would disagree which is quite evident by the simmering tensions remaining today. Problem number two is why even go down this political rabbit hole during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics? Can’t these commentators just talk about the athletes and their accomplishments?
We just couldn’t go an entire Olympics without some Dokdo nonsense:
Japan lodged a protest with South Korea after flags hoisted during an Olympic preparation match were found bearing disputed islets in the Sea of Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.
“We cannot accept the flag in light of Japan’s stance over the sovereignty of Takeshima and it is extremely regrettable,” Suga said at a news conference, referring to the South Korean-controlled, Japanese-claimed islands called Dokdo in Korean.
The sports flag appeared during a game between Sweden and the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team in Incheon ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Games. [Japan Times]
You can read more at the link.
Via a reader tip comes yet another example of how North Korea continues to violate sanctions:
Japan has told the United Nations about a North Korean tanker spotted in the East China Sea that it suspects was engaged in a transfer of goods with another tanker in defiance of U.N. sanctions, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles capable of hitting the United States has spurred deepening U.N. Security Council sanctions and stoked fears of a military conflict.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, the North Korean-flagged tanker “Rye Song Gang 1” – blacklisted by the United Nations last month for carrying banned cargo – was spotted by a Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force patrol plane with the Dominican-flagged tanker “Yuk Tung” tied up beside it in the East China Sea on Saturday.
The two boats were lit up and some kind of activity was taking place, the Foreign Ministry said, adding that the Japanese government strongly suspected them of transferring goods in violation of the U.N. sanctions. [Reuters]
You can read more at the link, but at some point it seems something has to be done to stop this activity instead of just watching it happen.
Here is the latest on the comfort women issue between Korea and Japan:
Seoul does not plan to scrap or renegotiate the 2015 bilateral deal on the so-called comfort women, announced Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha Tuesday, though she underscored that the agreement is not a true resolution to the issue of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery.
The Korean government also plans to raise a fund equivalent to the 1 billion yen ($8.87 million) transferred by Tokyo to a foundation formed under the 2015 agreement for the victims of the Japanese Imperial Army’s forced recruitment of young women into sexual slavery before and during World War II, who are euphemistically referred to as comfort women.
“It is an undeniable fact that that the 2015 deal was an official agreement reached between the two countries, and we will not demand a renegotiation from the Japanese government,” Kang told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul.
The decision was reached after a Foreign Ministry task force spent months reviewing the negotiating process and contents of the 2015 deal, gathering survivors’ viewpoints and taking into consideration Korea-Japan relations, Kang added.
The two countries’ foreign ministries struck a deal on Dec. 28, 2015 to resolve the comfort women issue, which included an apology by the Japanese government and a 1 billion yen fund for the victims. The agreement provoked an immediate backlash from some survivors and civic organizations, who claimed Japan should take clearer legal responsibility by paying reparations.
The Korean Foreign Ministry launched a nine-member task force at the end of July comprised of foreign affairs officials and experts in Korea-Japan relations, international law and human rights. The task force was charged with assessing how the deal was reached and to pay more attention to the viewpoints of the victims, who had expressed disappointment at being left out of the negotiation process by the Park Geun-hye administration.
President Moon Jae-in has emphasized that the agreement is not accepted by the general public in Korea and called it “flawed.”
While Seoul does not plan to renegotiate or scrap the deal, Kang encouraged Japan to “accept the truth as it is, according to universally-accepted standards,” to help restore the honor and dignity of the victims and heal the wounds in their hearts.
“What the victims all wish for is a genuine apology [of Japan’s] own accord,” Kang added. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link, but I think the Japanese public has probably hit apology fatigue with all the demands for more apologies after their government has already made a number of apologies. Prime Minister Abe could apologize again and commit seppuku on top of Namsan and there would still be people complaining for more apologies.
That is why I have long believed that if Japanese Prime Minister Abe was really clever he should apologize for war time sexual slavery again, but this time in a large public speech to draw maximum media attention. During this speech then announce that Japan to atone for its past sins would become a champion of women’s rights beginning with the plight of modern day sexual slavery of North Korean women in China that both the South Korean and Chinese governments choose to ignore.
North Korean women trafficked in the sex industry in China are the modern day comfort women that the Chinese and South Koreans do nothing to stop. Japan becoming an advocate for these women would expose the current hypocrisy of their critics on this issue.
Here is what the USFK commander General Brooks had to say about North Korea’s recent overtures:
The commanding general of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) on Thursday stressed the importance of combat readiness and unity among regional powers to cope with North Korea’s recent peace offensive.
“We can be generally pleased by the recent overtures that happened. But we must keep our expectations at the appropriate level,” Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who leads the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), said at a lecture in Seoul.
He was referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day statement that his country is willing to join the Winter Olympics that will open in the South Korean town of PyeongChang next month. He proposed immediate inter-Korean dialogue to discuss the issue.
In a follow-up move, the two Koreas reconnected a cross-border communication channel Wednesday, two years after it was severed, and are preparing to hold high-level talks.
It represents Pyongyang’s “sincere” pursuit of reconciliation, but it may be in line with its typical strategy to keep apart five countries — South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia — aimed at weakening their power against the regime trying to win the status of a “nuclear capable” nation.
“We can’t ignore that reality,” the command emphasized during the session at Seoul Cyber University, organized by the National Unification Advisory Council, a presidential consultative body mainly on long-term inter-Korean ties.
In the face of the North’s peace gesture, he said, it’s important for South Korea and the U.S. to maintain an “ironclad and razor sharp” alliance and joint combat readiness in the event that it leads to a “negative outcome, not a positive outcome.”
He likened North Korea to the center of a palm and the five regional powers to five fingers, showing his right hand.
The North wants these five fingers to be separated but they should operate in “harmony and closely connected to one another” as a fist to create necessary pressure to cause a change in its course, he added. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but I think the problem with General Brooks analogy is that two of the fingers have no intention of being part of the fist, Russia and China. It is arguable they share the same strategic objective of the Kim regime to separate the US from the ROK.
The Russians are actually more angry at the Japanese for trying to defend themselves than at the North Koreans which are the only reason the Japanese are spending so much money on missile defense in the first place:
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday accused the United States of violating a key arms treaty by selling a missile defence system to Japan.
“The US is deploying them (missile defence systems) at their military bases in Romania and Poland, that is near our western borders, which goes against the 1987 INF Treaty banning the deployment of such systems on the ground,” Ryabkov said in a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.
“The fact that such complexes could now appear on Russia’s eastern borders creates a situation that we cannot ignore in our military planning,” said Ryabkov.
On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deployment of the US missile defence system would have a negative impact on relations between Tokyo and Moscow.
“We consider the step made by the Japanese side as going against efforts of ensuring peace and stability in the region,” Zakharova said, adding that Moscow has “deep regret and serious concern” over the move.
On December 19, the Japanese government approved the installation of two land-based US-made Aegis Ashore missile defence systems to defend the country against North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats. [AFP]
You can read more at the link.
One of the stupidest disputes in Asia continues:
South Korea on Thursday began a two-day military exercise for the defense of Dokdo, a set of rocky islets in the East Sea to which Japan lays territorial claim.
“The Navy will conduct the regular Dokdo defense exercise aimed at preventing the infiltration of external forces into the South Korean territory in conjunction with a flotilla-level field exercise by the Navy’s First Fleet,” according to the Navy. The First Fleet is based in the East Sea.
The exercise is conducted twice a year and involves the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force and police. Navy destroyers, fighter jets and patrol aircraft are participating in the drill, the Navy said.
The exercise immediately drew an angry reaction from Japan, just as past exercises have done. Japan has long claimed the islets, which lie closer to South Korea than Japan, a fact that causes diplomatic tension with South Korea.
The Tokyo filed a protest with Seoul, saying the exercise is “unacceptable,” Japan’s Kyodo News reported, quoting a senior official. [Yonhap]
So basically the ROK military is exercising for something that is never going to happen because the Japanese are not going to invade Dokdo and the Koreans know that. This is basically just a public relations stunt for domestic political consumption. With that said I think the Japanese government would be better served by just keeping quiet instead of criticizing all things Dokdo related.
The Dokdo public relations stunt I want to see is to have the ROK government bring Flag Eater Man, Finger Chopping Lady, Knife in the Gut Man, Weed Killer Man, the Dokdo Riders, and Bee Man all to Dokdo in a combined display of ROK patriotism.
When it comes to the comfort women issue the Moon administration has made it clear that there will be no compromise with Japan:
South Korea’s previous government of ousted President Park Geun-hye kept part of a 2015 deal with Japan on resolving the issue of wartime sexual slavery secret from the public in order to avoid criticism of concessions made to Tokyo, a task force said Wednesday.
After months of looking into how the unpopular deal was reached, the foreign ministry task force also said that the Park administration failed to make adequate efforts to listen to victims before reaching the agreement.
It called for the government to come up with a longer-term approach to resolve such a historical matter as the so-called comfort women issue, saying that “give-and-take” negotiations or political compromise could not be the ultimate solution.
“A victims-centered approach, which has become the norm when it comes to the human rights of women in time of war, has not been sufficiently reflected and the deal was reached through give-and-take negotiations like an ordinary diplomatic agenda” the task force said in its 31-page report on the outcome of its review.
“The agreement was finalized mostly based on government views without adequately taking into account the opinions of victims in the process of negotiation,” it added.
The findings are expected to make the already unpopular deal even more so, and could spark stronger calls for renegotiation, a move sure to strain relations between the two neighboring countries. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but according to the article despite the supposed anger of the comfort women with the agreement, 36 out of 47 of them took the compensation money from Japan.
With that all said when is the Korean government going to demand that China apologize and pay compensation for all the Koreans they killed and their near success of destroying the Republic of Korea during the Korean War? That is more recent history then the World War II era comfort women issue.