AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Tales of the West Pacific

Posted by ampontan on Monday, November 12, 2012

Geography class at a South Korean school

HERE’S a report that suggests the idea of reducing government expenditures won’t find supporters among the South Korean political class when the Takeshima islets are at issue:

South Korea’s parliament approved a sharply increased budget to be used to guard against Japan’s claims over South Korea’s easternmost islets, Yonhap reported…

…The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that the National Assembly’s committee for foreign affairs gave the green light to setting aside a budget of 6.22 billion won (US$5.72 million) for 2013 to bolster a global public relations campaign about the rocky islets.

The approved budget amount is 2 billion won more than what the foreign ministry had proposed for 2013, and about three times more than the 2.32 billion won earmarked for this year.

Here’s my favorite part:

The lawmakers recommended that the government build better foreign-language Web sites for Dokdo and strengthen its network with foreign experts on international law, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

Apart from the question of how the government-funded websites could be made “better”, there is the vaudeville performance of a government strengthening its network of foreign experts on international law while refusing to allow the case to be heard by the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the State Oceanic Administration of the People’s Republic of China told the Mingpao News of Hong Kong that their maritime patrol vessels will continue to patrol the area near the Senkaku islets “indefinitely”. He also said the PLA navy would soon be transferring ships to the Oceanic Administration to be refitted and used by the agency. The spokesman explained that the islets were Chinese territory, and that therefore “we must defend them”.

These are the same patrol boats that order the Japanese Coast Guard vessels assigned to follow them to leave “Chinese territory” at once.

The overseas experts think that nationalism is on the rise throughout East Asia. (It isn’t. This is how the Chinese and Koreans always behave.) They include Japan because some people here have gotten serious about amending the pacifist Constitution to permit self-defense. The Japanese government also bought the Senkaku islets from their private owners to prevent the former Tokyo Metro District governor from buying them and installing a much-needed refuge for fishing boats and a radio antenna.

One can only imagine what they would say if the Japanese behaved as the South Koreans. That would include the indoctrination of school children as in the photo above, and the conduct of international propaganda campaigns that require legal experts to provide cover for their fear they would lose international arbitration.

Or if they behaved as the Chinese do and adopted a policy of the Turn of the Military Screw to grab whatever territory in the region they decide should be theirs.

Somehow, I think it unlikely the bien pensants would have offered their current narrative of false equivalence and neutrality about “territorial disputes”, due to “lingering resentments” in the region. It would be even worse — and more inaccurate, if that’s possible.

Before long, however, we might not have to use our imaginations. A lower house election will be held soon or late, and the odds are that the DPJ, the ruling party that is no longer a functioning political party, will be trounced. The odds also seem to favor their replacement with people who will have something resembling a backbone.

That’s when the handwringing and wailing will really begin overseas. Other than China and the Korean Peninsula, of course — there it’s 24/7, and a matter of official policy.

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One Response to “Tales of the West Pacific”

  1. [...] Bill Sakovich is a little bit more, ummm, passionate. The point, though, is the same, with the added advantage of punctuating how tall the odds for peaceful compromise are – although there are optimists. [...]

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