AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

Ichigen koji (275)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 31, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

A certain media outlet asked me to review some book about the South Korean presidential election. When I asked them if I could choose the book to review, they told me to choose whichever book I liked from my perspective. When I asked them if they would accept a book with a slanted viewpoint, they said that would be fine. I accepted the job on those terms. But then they told me I couldn’t use the book I selected.

- Kimura Kan, Kobe University professor

Posted in Mass media, Quotations, South Korea | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

All you have to do is look (149)

Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 28, 2012

Kukuchi-jo, a (perhaps) Korean-style fortress, now a national historical structure in a national park in Yamaga, Kumamoto. It is not known when it was built, but the name first appears in written records in 698. Here’s the Japanese-language website.

Posted in History, Military affairs, South Korea | Tagged: , | 15 Comments »

Ichigen koji (267)

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 22, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

Those people opposed to participation in the TPP negotiations do so on the premise that Japan will absolutely lose. In that case, can we win with in a free trade agreement with China and South Korea, the EPA/EIA with the EU, or the RCEP with ASEAN? We won’t know unless we try. The key is what happens when the treaty provisions are written into national law at the end of the process. It would be pointless to sign a treaty without the attendant domestic law.

- Takahashi Yoichi, economic advisor to the Japan Restoration Party, Your Party, and others

Posted in Business, finance and the economy, China, Government, International relations, Quotations, South Korea | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ichigen koji (266)

Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 21, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

I’m quickly putting together a paper on the Japanese population in South Korea. The more I conduct research, the more it appears that the presence of the Unification Church is the decisive factor. If what I’ve heard can be believed, there are roughly 7,000 Japanese women now living in South Korea. About 30% of that total, and 70% of all international marriages (with Japanese) are related to the Unification Church.

- Kimura Kan, Kobe University professor

Posted in International relations, Quotations, Religion, South Korea | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Where it all started, and where it all starts

Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 21, 2012

HERE are two related posts. The first is an excerpt of an article that appeared on the website of the Cheonji Ilbo, a South Korean religious daily that focuses on history, culture, and religion.

The Race that Knows History will be the Masters of the Future

“Hang Sang-won, professor of East Asian and Western linguistics, holds that the countries that do not know history are idiots and will be rendered extinct.

“It is not possible to understand the history of Asia without an understanding of Dangun-era Joseon in the ancient history of Northeast Asia. (N.B.: According to legend, Dangun founded Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, in 2,333 BC).

“Dangun-era Joseon is that important for ancient history, but it is impossible to understand why South Korea does not recognize its importance.

“Though Japan and China make up history that didn’t exist, why do you Koreans believe that history which actually existed did not exist? This country is unbelievable.

“It all started with the scholars who taught the distorted historical falsehoods of the toadyism and colonialism concocted first by the Chinese and the Japanese. We must authenticate the resplendent civilization that was the start of human history by restoring the history that was shredded. Yet the scholars without common sense, neutered by the transmission of that which is erroneous, who destroy the true history by declaring it false, hold firm to the mendacity.

“The history and civilization of humankind began in the East and moved westward. Western historians past and present are well aware of the importance of the history of humankind. The historical philosophers of the West have insisted on meeting the “wise men of the East”. They have included Francis Bacon, Albert Einstein, and Arnold Toynbee. Toynbee once said that human civilization will move from Europe and the North American continent to Northeast Asia. He predicted the reality of today.

“The people of the West now have nothing to brag about. They have no history or philosophy worth mentioning. That’s because the roots of the history and philosophy they are so proud of originated in the East. This fact is also well known by people in the West….

“…The Oxford English Dictionary, published from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, makes clear through linguistic proof that humanity originated with the Korean people.

“To cite a familiar example, there is the word “khan”, which means ruler. If we remove the silent K, it becomes Han. In other words, “Hanguk” (South Korea) means either the country ruled by the king, or the race with hereditary rule by kings.…

“…As a result of linguistic research in the East and the West, it was determined that the origin of humanity was the Korean people. They were the Dongyi people who created a flourishing civilization in the Pamir Mountains (of Central Asia) even earlier than the Sumerian civilization that so astounded the Westerners. We must know that the Dongyi are our ancestors, the Khan people who used Chinese characters, moved to Sumer, and created the foundation of contemporary Western civilization.”

The second is the introduction to a book by Takushoku University Prof. O Seon-hwa. She was born in Jeju in 1956 and first came to Japan in 1983.

“The arrogant attitude that the culture of one’s tribe is the standard, and that the culture of other tribes, such as the customs of their daily lives, their ways of thought, and the forms of their behavior, are disgraceful, irrational, mistaken, and inferior, is known as ethnocentrism.

“It can only be said that the Koreans’ belief that their culture’s value system is more proper and splendid than any other has exceeded normal bounds to a substantial degree.

“The damage of ethnocentrism is manifest in the self-serving fantasies and an unwillingness to look at reality. This problem is serious in South Korea because this way of thinking now extends into academia.”

Posted in History, I couldn't make this up if I tried, South Korea | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 4 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part Four.

*****

In August 2011, the Constitutional Court of Korea handed down a surprising ruling that the failure of the South Korean government to demand compensation from Japan for the comfort women (in the 1965 treaty) was a violation of the country’s Constitution.

The backdrop to this decision was a statement prepared in 2006 by the leftist, North Korean-friendly administration of then-President Roh Moo-hyun. It referred to “the continued demand made to the Japanese government about inhumane and illegal acts, including the Japanese military comfort women, which were not dealt with in the Korean-Japanese agreement on the right of claim”. As I have already noted, the South Korean government made no claims about the comfort woman issue during the negotiations to normalize relations. The persistent efforts of anti-Japan Japanese, however, ignited this issue. That led to the South Korean government’s far-fetched view that the right to seek compensation remained because they didn’t exercise it during the original negotiations.

Using that as a basis, the former comfort women claimed it was unconstitutional for the South Korean government to have not sought compensation from Japan, in opposition to the government’s view. The court’s decision quoted from the report of the UN Commission on Human Rights and the US House of Representatives’ resolution to state as fact the idea that the comfort women were sex slaves. It asked the South Korean government to conduct negotiations with Japan based on that perspective. The placement of a comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, the placement of similar statues in locations throughout the United States, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s forceful claims on the issue during the summit meeting in December last year with Prime Minister Noda are all well known.

An organizational response is indispensable to defend Japan’s honor against this international plot. The Foreign Ministry will not deal with this issue. As with the issue of North Korean abductions, a special section directly under the prime minister and a ministerial portfolio should be created. An advisory panel with specialists should also be established. The government’s administrative investigation rights should be exercised to determine why the 1996 rebuttal to the UN report was withdrawn. A new declaration by the chief cabinet secretary about the comfort woman issue should be issued to replace the Kono Declaration. It is urgent that the idea equating comfort women with sex slaves be clearly repudiated.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 3 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 17, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part Three.

*****
The second great uproar began when Japanese left-wing academics, encouraged by the Kono doctrine, wrote about the coercion of comfort women in junior high school textbooks. Other scholars, intellectuals, and many citizens formed the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. In addition, the late Nakagawa Shoichi, Abe Shinzo, and other conservative politicians with a conscience joined the ranks of those who argued there was no coercion.

At the start of a live, late-night television program on the comfort women broadcast in 1997, I asked Prof. Yoshimi Yoshiaki of Chuo University if it had been proven that comfort women were forcibly seized under government authority on the Korean Peninsula. He answered that it had not. At this point, even the leftwing scholars could no longer quote the testimony of Yoshida or Kim Hak-sun.

In 2006, however, soon after the Abe Shinzo Cabinet was inaugurated, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the Japanese government to give a formal apology to the comfort women and compensate them for sexual slavery. During a debate in the Diet, Prime Minister Abe explained there was no coercion of the comfort woman, based on the results of the domestic debate. He was harshly criticized by the American media, and bilateral relations began to grow strained. The backdrop to these developments was that an anti-Japan Japanese took the comfort woman as sex slave theory to the UN and spread the lie internationally.

It was Japanese lawyer Totsuka Etsuro who conceived of the international scheme to equate comfort women with sex slaves. He wrote rather self-importantly about his idea in War and Sex, Vol. 25, May 2006.

As a representative of the IED NGO, I first brought up the military comfort woman issue of the forced recruitment of North and South Koreans during the war at the UN Commission on Human Rights in February 1992. We demanded that the Japanese government take responsibility, and asked the UN to respond…

…Until then, there had never been a consideration of the military comfort woman issue on the basis of international law. A new investigation was necessary to determine how to evaluate the issue. As a result, I defined (the women) as sex slaves of Japan’s Imperial Army.

Totsuka’s definition was the start of the anti-Japan plot in the international community. A Japanese went to the UN and continued to slander his nation in contravention of the facts, so it was relatively easy for the diplomats of many countries to get caught up in the plot. The activities of his UN lobby included 18 trips overseas during the four-year period from 1992 to 1995. Of these, 14 were made to Europe, two to the U.S., and one each to South Korea and China. As a result of this relentless, abnormal activity, Totsuka’s sex slave theory was adopted in an official UN document in 1996.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, a special rapporteur on violence against women, submitted a report to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1996 titled, “Report on the mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the issue of the military sexual slavery in wartime”. She wrote:

The Special Rapporteur would like to clarify at the outset of this report that she considers the case of women forced to render sexual services in wartime by and/or for the use of armed forces a practice of military sexual slavery.

This document is based on the testimony of Yoshida Seiji and the idea that comfort women were forcibly recruited as part of the volunteer corps. This recognition of the facts is in error. Before this report was adopted, the Foreign Ministry submitted a 40-page report in rebuttal to the Human Rights Commission. This rebuttal was suddenly withdrawn, however, and replaced with a document stating that Japan had already apologized. It made no reference to the facts of the matter. The prime minister of Japan at the time was Murayama Tomi’ichi of the Socialist Party. Since then, the Foreign Ministry has issued no rebuttal with a discussion of the facts. This was the spark for the resolution in U.S. House of Representatives.

Afterwords:

The Yoshida book had already been discredited both in Japan and South Korea by the time it was cited in the Coomaraswamy report.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 2 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 16, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Part One was published yesterday. Here is Part Two.

*****
Eight years after Yoshida’s testimony, on 11 August 1991, the first great uproar over the comfort women began when the Asahi Shimbun published a newspaper article filled with falsehoods. The article was accompanied by a large headline that read, A Korean Comfort Woman Reluctantly Speaks a Half-Century after the War. The lede read:

Korean comfort women were taken to the battlefield during the Japan-China War and the Second World War as the “volunteer corps” and forced to prostitute themselves to Japanese soldiers. We discovered one of them still living in Seoul. The Council for Dealing with the Problem of the South Korean Volunteer Corps began the work of interviewing her.

The mistaken report took up the malevolent claims of Yoshida’s testimony by saying that the women were taken to the front under the name of the “volunteer corps”. Kim Hak-sun, the comfort woman who spoke out, did not say that she was taken to the battlefield as part of the “volunteer corps”. Her mother sold her as a gisaeng for 40 yen because the family was poor. The Asahi Shimbun has yet to correct its mistake to this day.

The article was written by Uemura Takashi, who was married to the daughter of an executive in the group known as the (South Korean) Association for Bereaved Families of the Pacific War victims. They brought suit against the Japanese government seeking compensation. It is difficult to forgive someone who used the pages of the Asahi to write a lie, giving his mother-in-law’s suit more credibility.

When then-Prime Minister Miyazawa Ki’ichi visited South Korea in January 1992, he apologized to President Roh Tae-woo eight times. That year in February, I asked a senior member of the Northeast Asia section of the Foreign Ministry whether the prime minister had apologized because he recognized that the women had been taken forcibly under government authority, or whether he apologized for the damage down by prostitution caused by poverty. I was surprised by the answer I received: We’re going to start investigating that now.

I wrote an article with the above content for the April issue of the Bungei Shunju that year. Right after that article appeared, Prof. Jin Uk-eon, whose field of specialty is modern history, went to Jeju to conduct a survey about Yoshida’s testimony. He discovered the previously mentioned article in the Jeju newspaper and revealed that Yoshida had lied.

An Byeong-jik, a professor emeritus at Seoul University, conducted an academic study of the testimony of the comfort women who had come forward other than Kim Hak-sun. He concluded that it was not possible to verify the claim that they had been forcibly taken under government authority. Starting in January 1992, the Japanese government thoroughly examined official documents. They found that the volunteer corps system and the comfort women were completely separate, and there were no official documents that indicated the women had been forcibly taken under government authority. Thus, the first dispute ended with the determination of the actual facts.

The Japanese government, however, did not present a rebuttal based on the facts. They conducted the cowardly diplomacy of continuing to apologize while putting off the resolution of the problem. This shouldn’t have been an issue to begin with, but it became a serious issue in Japan-Korean relations.

In confidential discussions, the South Korean government asked the Japanese government to recognize coercion. If Japan did so, they suggested, it would end the problem in bilateral relations. Pandering to the South Koreans, the Foreign Ministry bureaucrats and Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono turned their backs on Japan. The bureaucrats employed the sophistry that there was coercion because the women didn’t want to become comfort women. The government issued the Kono Declaration in August 1993 as a representation of the government’s apology.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 1 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 15, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part One.

*****

THE furor over the comfort women erupted again last year. This is the fourth time. The first started in 1991, when the Asahi Shimbun printed the error-filled report that a Korean woman who sold her body as a gisaeng was compelled to join the volunteer corps. It ended in 1994 with the issuance of the Kono Declaration. The second occurred during the turmoil in 1996 in Japan, when intellectuals and Diet members raised the issue. They claimed information included in junior high school textbooks whose screening was complete contained erroneous documentation about the forcible recruitment of comfort women. The adoption in 2007 by the U.S. House of Representatives of a resolution censuring Japan for forcing women to become sex slaves was the third. I have been involved in this debate since 1991, more than 20 years.

Initially, I took the stand that while the comfort women existed, there was no comfort woman problem. First, I did not recognize that comfort women were captured through the exercise of public power, and that they were victims of the sex trade due to poverty. Second, I held that the 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea had completely and finally resolved the issue of postwar reparations to South Korea. Therefore, my claim was that nothing remained to be resolved.

My thinking changed with the fourth eruption last year, however. As a result of the activities of some professional anti-Japan Japanese and anti-Japanese South Korean activists whose aim was to destroy Japan-Korean relations, the falsehood that the Japanese army made South Korean and other women sex slaves began to spread overseas. Many foreigners, including young South Koreans, believed this to be a fact, and this problem should be resolved. I began to rigorously think of the comfort woman problem as an issue of how to clear away the falsehood of the sex slave theory.

Therefore, I wanted to confirm the identity of the first person to expound the sex slave theory. That was Yoshida Seiji, a professional anti-Japanese Japanese. The idea did not come from South Korea.

The first president after the Korean nation was established in 1948 was independence activist Yi Seung-man. The Yi administration conducted negotiations with Japan for the normalization of relations. At that time, the Koreans demanded money from Japan for a variety of reasons to extract the maximum amount of postwar reparations. The 1951 list included eight different categories. One of them was compensation to the people impressed into service because of the war. The comfort women were not part of this category. At that time, most South Koreans knew of the circumstances of the colonial period. Though the Yi Seung-man administration pursued anti-Japanese policies, they did not ask for money for the comfort women in the diplomatic negotiations.

The sex slave theory was not brought up during the 1965 negotiations, either. That arose with the publication of Yoshida Seiji’s 1983 book, My War Crimes. Yoshida said the army ordered him in 1943 to mobilize Korean women for the volunteer corps. He also said he led a group of Japanese soldiers on Jeju to round up young, unmarried women and mothers with infants, take them away in trucks, and rape them.

Yoshida’s book was published in Japanese in 1989. A female reporter with the local newspaper on Jeju covered the story, and all the residents told her nothing like that had happened. An article was published in that newspaper on 14 August 1989 that said Yoshida lied. That newspaper article attracted little attention, however. The sex slave theory began to spread from among Japanese and Korean scholars and anti-Japanese activists.

That is the preliminary history.

Posted in International relations, Sex, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Ichigen koji (257)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

一言居士
– A person who has something to say about everything

(Joong-an Ilbo headline: South Korea-China summit — Territorial disputes are due to Japan’s rightward shift)

Even if Japan were shifting to the right, the general public of those countries would not have been provoked to shouting discriminatory slogans and engaging in violent behavior by government agitation, unless the leader of one of those countries had not landed on an island under dispute. Otherwise, there would be no reason for concern in neighboring countries. In other words, there are no modern states built on the rule of law among our neighbors.

- The Tweeter known as Aceface

Posted in China, International relations, Quotations, South Korea | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

All you have to do is read

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 9, 2012

THE following are excerpts from The Economic History of Korea, by Myung Soo Cha of Yeungnam University.

Under the heading of Dynamic Degeneration, which refers to the Chosun Dynasty:

“Population growth came to a halt around 1800, and a century of demographic stagnation followed due to a higher level of mortality. During the nineteenth century, living standards appeared to deteriorate. Both wages and rents fell, tax receipts shrank, and budget deficits expanded, forcing the government to resort to debasement. Peasant rebellions occurred more frequently, and poor peasants left Korea for northern China.

“Given that both acreage and population remained stable during the nineteenth century, the worsening living standards imply that the aggregate output contracted, because land and labor were being used in an ever more inefficient way. The decline in efficiency appeared to have much to do with disintegrating system of water control, which included flood control and irrigation.”

The next heading is Colonial Transition to Modern Economic Growth:

“Less than two decades after having been opened by Commodore Perry, Japan first made its ambitions about Korea known by forcing the country open to trade in 1876. Defeating Russia in the war of 1905, Japan virtually annexed Korea, which was made official five years later. What replaced the feeble and predatory bureaucracy of the ChosǑn dynasty was a developmental state. Drawing on the Meiji government’s experience, the colonial state introduced a set of expensive policy measures to modernize Korea. One important project was to improve infrastructure: railway lines were extended, and roads and harbors and communication networks were improved, which rapidly integrated goods and factor markets both nationally and internationally. Another project was a vigorous health campaign: the colonial government improved public hygiene, introduced modern medicine, and built hospitals, significantly accelerating the mortality decline set in motion around 1890, apparently by the introduction of the smallpox vaccination. The mortality transition resulted in a population expanding 1.4% per year during the colonial period. The third project was to revamp education. As modern teaching institutions quickly replaced traditional schools teaching Chinese classics, primary school enrollment ration rose from 1 percent in 1910 to 47 percent in 1943. Finally, the cadastral survey (1910-18) modernized and legalized property rights to land, which boosted not only the efficiency in land use, but also tax revenue from landowners. These modernization efforts generated sizable public deficits, which the colonial government could finance partly by floating bonds in Japan and partly by unilateral transfers from the Japanese government.

“The colonial government implemented industrial policy as well. The Rice Production Development Program (1920-1933), a policy response to the Rice Riots in Japan in 1918, was aimed at increasing rice supply within the Japanese empire. In colonial Korea, the program placed particular emphasis upon reversing the decay in water control. The colonial government provided subsidies for irrigation projects, and set up institutions to lower information, negotiation, and enforcement costs in building new waterways and reservoirs. Improved irrigation made it possible for peasants to grow high yielding rice seed varieties. Completion of a chemical fertilizer factory in 1927 increased the use of fertilizer, further boosting the yields from the new type of rice seeds. Rice prices fell rapidly in the late 1920s and early 1930s in the wake of the world agricultural depression, leading to the suspension of the program in 1933.

“Despite the Rice Program, the structure of the colonial economy has been shifting away from agriculture towards manufacturing ever since the beginning of the colonial rule at a consistent pace. From 1911-40 the share of manufacturing in GDP increased from 6 percent to 28 percent, and the share of agriculture fell from 76 percent to 41 percent. Major causes of the structural change included diffusion of modern manufacturing technology, the world agricultural depression shifting the terms of trade in favor of manufacturing, and Japan’s early recovery from the Great Depression generating an investment boom in the colony. Also Korea’s cheap labor and natural resources and the introduction of controls on output and investment in Japan to mitigate the impact of the Depression helped attract direct investment in the colony. Finally, subjugating party politicians and pushing Japan into the Second World War with the invasion of China in 1937, the Japanese military began to develop northern parts of Korea peninsula as an industrial base producing munitions.

“The institutional modernization, technological diffusion, and the inflow of Japanese capital put an end to the Malthusian degeneration and pushed Korea onto the path of modern economic growth. Both rents and wages stopped falling and started to rise from the early twentieth century. As the population explosion made labor increasingly abundant vis-a-vis land, rents increased more rapidly than wages, suggesting that income distribution became less equal during the colonial period. Per capita output rose faster than one percent per year from 1911-38.

“Per capita grain consumption declined during the colonial period, providing grounds for traditional criticism of the Japanese colonialism exploiting Korea. However, per capita real consumption increased, due to rising non-grain and non-good consumption, and Koreans were also getting better education and living longer. In the late 1920s, life expectancy at birth was 37 years, an estimate several years longer than in China and almost ten years shorter than in Japan. Life expectancy increased to 43 years at the end of the colonial period. Male mean stature was slightly higher than 160 centimeters at the end of the 1920s, a number not significantly different from the Chinese or Japanese height, and appeared to become shorter during the latter half of the colonial period.”

It concludes with the heading South Korean Prosperity:

“In the quarter century following the policy shift in the early 1960s, the South Korean per capita output grew at an unusually rapid rate of 7 percent per year, a growth performance paralleled only by Taiwan and two city-states, Hong Kong and Singapore. The portion of South Koreans enjoying the benefits of the growth increased more rapidly from the end of 1970s, when the rising trend in the Gini coefficient (which measures the inequality of income distribution) since the colonial period was reversed. The growth was attributable far more to increased use of productive inputs — physical capital in particular — than to productivity advances. The rapid capital accumulation was driven by an increasingly high savings rate due to a falling dependency ratio, a lagged outcome of rapidly falling mortality during the colonial period. The high growth was also aided by accumulation of human capital, which started with the introduction of modern education under the Japanese rule. Finally, the South Korean developmental state, as symbolized by Park Chung Hee, a former officer of the Japanese Imperial army serving in wartime Manchuria, was closely modeled upon the colonial system of government. In short, South Korea grew on the shoulders of the colonial achievement, rather than emerging out of the ashes left by the Korean War, as is sometimes asserted.”

The South Koreans have installed a billboard on Times Square in New York demanding that the Japanese Emperor get down on his knees and apologize for his nation’s crimes in Korea as Willy Brandt did in Warsaw. (It is coupled with a billboard for a bibimbap restaurant. Synergistic advertising.)

Getting down on one’s knees is the appropriate reaction, but they’ve got the actors confused. South Koreans should get down on their knees and thank the nation of the Japanese Emperor that the people in Seoul and Busan don’t live like the people in Pyeongyang. (At least the ones not sympathetic to the Kim Dynasty should.)

But that wouldn’t be necessary. The Japanese would probably be fine to let the dead bury the dead, look to the future, and just get on with it.

Posted in History, North Korea, South Korea | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Urijinaru

Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 7, 2012

THE concept of Sinocentric culturalism — that China is the flower at the center of the world and Chinese behavior and etiquette is the correct form to which everyone else must be measured — is familiar to people outside of East Asia. Less well known is that the Koreans have their own version of it. That brand also involves looking down on the Chinese for being periodically corrupted by barbarian invasions, while the Korean brand remains pure.

One example of the manifestation of that belief is found in this previous post. It features an interview with Dankook University Prof. Kim Yong-un, who was born and grew up in Japan. He tells a story that is too infrequently heard: The overwhelming majority of Koreans who moved to Japan during the 1910-1945 period did so for the same reason most Europeans emigrated to the United States in past centuries. That was to seek a better life with a greater chance for affluence. Coercion was not a factor.

At the end of that post is a note that Prof. Kim planned to publish a book claiming that his research shows the Korean language is derived from the old Silla language, and that the Japanese language is derived from the old Baekche language.

Just before it was published, the Global Times of China ran an article that discussed the book and the professor’s research. His research subjects included the Samguk Sagi, or History of the Three Kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla), and a text in the old Goryeo language. The professor also claimed that Japan’s 26th emperor, Keitai (507-531), was also Konshi, the younger brother of the 22nd Baekje king.

The reaction of the Chinese public to the Global Times article was enlightening. They too are well aware of the claims of some Koreans that Confucius was Korean, the Koreans invented Chinese characters, and even that Christ was Korean. The Koreans have also registered the Dragon Boat Festival as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, though it is widely thought to have originated in China. Thus the Chinese share with the Japanese the recognition that the Koreans distort history to place themselves at the center of events or to suit their own purposes.

The Japanese thought it was entertaining to read the comments to the article submitted by the Chinese readers. They included:

* After China, Japan. Which country will be next?

* The Koreans really are creative. This is probably making the Japanese dizzy too.

* God in heaven is also probably Korean.

* The solar system was also a Korean invention.

* After reading this, I realized the Japanese-Korean merger was the right thing to do.

The problem with Prof. Kim’s research is that serious linguists have covered this same ground and reached conclusions that were less ethnocentric. Scholars of East Asian languages are aware of the areas of similarity between the Japanese and Korean languages, both in structure and some vocabulary elements. Here are the opinions of Iksop Lee and S. Robert Ramsey, linguists who wrote The Korean Language, published in 2000.

(T)he general structural characteristics of Japanese are almost identical to that of Korean. Concrete lexical and grammatical correspondences may be thin compared to this strikingly close structural resemblance, but there continues to be optimism about the possibility that the two languages might share a common genetic origin. The probability that Japanese belongs to the Altaic family is believed to be somewhat less than that of Korean. Even G.J. Ramstedt and N. Poppe,, who were enthusiastic advocates of a genetic relationship between Korean and Altaic, hesitated when it came to placing Japanese in the Altaic family. Moreover, there are also those who advocate a relationship with Austronesian for Japanese — a “southern hypothesis” as it were.

And:

The significance of the Goguryeo language is that it seems to share vocabulary not only with Silla, on the one hand, but with Japanese, on the other hand. Because of the Japanese-like vocabulary of Goguryeoan, some foreign scholars have thought it likely to be a close relative or ancestor of Japanese, but that idea ignores the fact that much of the vocabulary is clearly Korean. The relationship that Goguryeoan had with Japanese lies tantalizingly beyond our grasp.

In other words, the linguists have been there and done that. Those linguists also include Japanese scholars, many of whom also suspect their language might be Altaic.

But none of them feel the need to wave the flag about it.

At least Prof. Kim takes a stab at scholarship. Not all Joseon-centric culturalists do. For an example, try this article from the weekly Shukan Post for 18 November.

“A portmanteau word has been created to define the concept that Japanese culture originates in Korea. This word is urijinaru, a combination of the Korean word uri (our) and original. This extends to all aspects of Japanese culture. Now that Japanese cuisine has become popular around the world, it extends to that as well.

“One recent claim is that Japanese sake has its roots in magkeolli, which is being aggressively promoted by some Korean restaurants (in Japan). That seems plausible at a glance, but Japanese sake was created from doburoku, and the history and fermentation processes of magkeolli and doburoku are different.

“Also, the Korean-language Wikipedia page for wasabi states that it was originally grown in Korea and is now cultivated near rivers in Korea and Japan.

“Said the South Korean news site Digital Times:

South Korean wasabi has a fragrance that is far superior to Japanese wasabi, which is well-known among Japanese chefs.

“This is of course nonsense, and wasabi is a variety of the plant that originated in Japan. But the South Koreans also claim that sushi is urijinaru, so they had to create this story about wasabi to make their story consistent.”

*****
Now try to imagine if someone with that sort of attitude lived in your neighborhood, and how it might be to associate with them on a regular basis.

Posted in China, Food, History, Language, South Korea | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

You really don’t know?

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 1, 2012

EARLIER this week, we saw that NHK-TV chose not to invite any K-pop performers to appear on its famous New Year’s Eve program, Kohaku Uta Gassen. Four K-pop groups appeared last year.

This seems to have upset the three major South Korean newspapers.

The Joongan-Ilbo charged that they were deliberately excluded, and asked:

Is it really not related to the Dokdo (Takeshima) problem?

They added that the groups who appeared on last year’s show were more popular in Japan this year. Shojo Jidai and KARA sold more than 100,000 albums and received gold discs from the Recording Industry Association of Japan

They also didn’t find the NHK explanation very convincing.

The Chosun Ilbo asked:

Why the declaration of a boycott of South Korean singers?

Note the typical exaggeration — one program on one network constitutes a “boycott”.

The Dong-a Ilbo also complained about the “exclusion” of K-pop singers.

The exaggerated posturing impresses no one but themselves. Of course it’s about Takeshima. And President Lee’s statements about the Emperor. And the continued decades of obnoxious behavior of many South Koreans toward Japan that they’re now exporting to unrelated countries. They put up absurd propaganda billboards in Times Square and expect Japan to turn the other cheek?

And be allowed to appear on the quasi-governmental television network as if nothing happened?

The thread has been broken, and they’re the ones who broke it.

Meanwhile, it is still against the law for a Japanese performer to appear on South Korean terrestrial television at all — yet the Korean media gets enuretic when Korean singers are not included on one Japanaese television program.

It’s time for some people in South Korea to get over themselves.

But that would be too much to ask, wouldn’t it?

Posted in I couldn't make this up if I tried, International relations, Mass media, Popular culture, South Korea | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Clippings

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MANY South Koreans continue to reveal in word and deed their lack of interest in better relations with Japan, and their antipathy to the idea itself. It doesn’t make any difference what the Japanese do — they’re not going to change.

The photo above shows one of several organized groups of demonstrators in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul last week. The demonstration was to protest the content of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s election pledges released on the 21st.

The LDP isn’t calling their promises a manifesto (British style). After the ruling Democratic Party congratulated themselves for bringing manifestoes to Japan, and then used theirs as toilet paper once they took office, manifesto has now become a dirty political word. But back to the story.

It was reported in South Korea that the LDP campaign pledges would “return Japan to a war criminal state that included far right-wing views which will completely repudiate (what today’s Koreans consider to be) the fact that the Japan-Korea merger was a war of invasion.”

I visited the LDP website and read the Japanese version of the document. (It’s not in English yet.) Under the Education category, the LDP promises to encourage students to take pride in traditional culture, to improve and revamp textbook screening, and to remove the “neighboring country clause” adopted in the 1980s for including considerations of the wishes of neighboring countries when editing textbooks.

There’s nothing in there about any repudiation of a “war of invasion”. (Which is not to say that there shouldn’t be, if that is cited in history textbooks.)

But telling the truth would deny a significant portion of South Korean society its favorite pastime. They just aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy about Japan.

Then again, this same element thinks Prime Minister Noda is also of the “extreme right”. That eliminates any possibility the Japanese will take what they say seriously.

No other governments at the time seemed to think it was a war of invasion, by the way. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt even thought it was an admirable example of the yellow man assuming the white man’s burden. Here’s an old map in English you’ll never see in South Korea. (It’s also worthy of note to compare the borders of China then with those of today.)

*****
Here’s an excerpt from an Chosun Ilbo editorial that appeared on 22 November.

“The Liberal Democratic Party’s promise to elevate Shimane Prefecture’s Takeshima Day into a national event is proof that Japan has lost its reason. There are now concerns that if this is accompanied by a promise to deny the government coercion of comfort women, it will be impossible for Japan to return to a normal path. It is clear that this denial will not only anger China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. There is no one in Japan who can put the brakes on this. The LDP promises include the stationing of personnel on the Senkaku islets, which are the subject of a territorial dispute with China.

“The first South Korea-China-Japan trilateral summit was held in Fukuoka in December 2008, and it has continued every year since then. But if LDP President Abe becomes the next prime minister with these campaign promises, it will not be possible to continue these summits. The next prime minister, the next Korean president, and the Chinese prime minister will not be able to discuss together the future of Northeast Asia.”

* Hysteria is the only word that can be used to describe this.

* Taiwan, The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia will not be angered by any of this, because they haven’t been before. In fact, the Indonesians years ago told the Japanese human rights hustlers trying to establish the same comfort woman scam there to get lost. The only countries to get angry are the two trying to use historical issues for rent-seeking.

* What Japanese government personnel are stationed on what part of Japanese territory is certainly not the business of the Chosun Ilbo. But then this is from a country that can’t get it up to do anything when another country sinks its naval vessels or unleashes an artillery barrage on its territory, killing military personnel and civilians both.

* The three leaders will not be able to discuss the future of the region as long as two of them insist on reopening and discussing past issues that were resolved by treaty decades ago.

*****
There has been for many years an official Japan-South Korea Legislators’ League to promote ties between the national legislators of both countries. Former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro was particularly active in the group.

The position of chairman on the Korean side has been vacant for six months, which is an unusual state of affairs. They finally got around to naming a new secretary-general, who is responsible for the actual liaison work with their Japanese counterparts.

The new man is Kang Chang-il, an opposition member of the assembly. In May 2011, he indulged in the Korean version of gesture politics by visiting the Northern Territories, the four small islands illegally seized by Russia after the Japanese surrender in the war.

And these are the people who are supposed to be most interested in creating stronger and friendlier governmental ties? With friends like these…

*****
Now comes word that a Korean group in Detroit wants to erect a comfort woman memorial in that city, and are waiting for final authorization from the city to proceed. In addition to wondering who among the people remaining in that dying city will much care about it, one also wonders what the Koreans think they will accomplish other than poisoning bilateral relations into the future.

The only way to describe this is to say that some people seem to enjoy being aggressively obnoxious. That isn’t a good strategy for creating friendly relations with anyone. Even if people not directly involved aren’t the immediate object of that obnoxious behavior, they realize on some level that it could just as easily be directed at them someday.

*****
The Japanese Cabinet Office released the results of their periodical survey of the public’s views of foreign affairs. Here are some of them.

Do you feel friendly to South Korea?

Yes: 39.2%, down 3.0 points from the previous survey

No: 59.0%. This percentage is higher than the one for yes for the first time since 1999.

How would you characterize bilateral relations?

Bad: 78.8%, a 42.8-point increase

Good: 18.4%

They also asked the same questions about China.

Do you feel friendly to China?

Yes: 18.0%, down 8.3 points from the previous survey. It is the lowest percentage since the question was first asked in the poll in 1978.

No: 80.65, a record high

How would you characterize bilateral relations?

Bad: 92.8%, a 16.5-point increase

Good: 4.8%, down 14 points.

There are at least two conclusions that can be drawn from these results.

The first is that one out of every 20 people you encounter might as well be living in a different galaxy. They sure aren’t paying attention to events in this one.

The other is that the Japanese are reaching, if not past, their limit of tolerance for Korean and Chinese behavior.

*****
As this previous post indicated, new varieties of the Korean alcoholic beverage makgeolli have become popular in Japan in recent years, mostly among women. South Korea shipped 39,000 tons of the hooch to Japan in 2011, an increase of 2.5 times from the previous year.

That isn’t happening this year. South Korean customs reported that makgeolli exports for the January – September period so far this year totaled 21,743 tons. That’s a 28.6% decline in volume from the same period in the year before, and a 28.0% drop in value.

South Korean attitudes and behavior aren’t leaving a good taste in people’s mouths. It’s getting harder to get makgeolli past the throat in those circumstances.

*****
NHK-TV has decided not to invite any K-pop performers for its famous New Year’s Eve musical program, Kohaku Uta Gassen. Three groups appeared last year, and those three are still performing in Japan, but the network decided they would not be conducive to creating a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere for the holidays.

The big attraction this year will be actor/singer Tachi Hiroshi singing a medley of the late actor/singer Ishihara Yujiro’s hits. As a young man, Mr. Tachi was associated with Ishihara’s production company, Ishihara was the leading male star of his generation, and he was the younger brother of Ishihara Shintaro.

*****
Here’s a video of cluelessness on a level approaching that of Joseph Biden. A South Korean man is performing parlor tricks with alcoholic beverages for the amusement of an international audience. He gives the tricks the generic title of “bomb liquor”.

About three minutes in, he performs what he calls the Hiroshima trick. It forms a boozy mushroom cloud. The Japanese ambassador is in the audience.

Then again, maybe it isn’t Bidenesque. Biden is a cloth-headed demagogue. This guy just doesn’t care.

Posted in China, History, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

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.

Posted in China, International relations, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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