AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Still more true facts

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, January 27, 2011

SCROLLING THROUGH the comment section of an American website recently, I read a note in which the author blithely asserted, as if it were common knowledge, that Japanese and Koreans despised each other. There were dozens of other comments on that post, but nobody objected to his. The other readers probably thought it was common knowledge too.

The author of the note knew this, he said, because he lived in Japan for a couple of years. Ah, that explains it. A man of the world.

Meanwhile, here’s some uncommon knowledge about what’s actually been happening in this part of the world, where the Japanese and South Koreans are just a hop, skip, and a 30-minute flight from each other.

So far this month.

* Saga Prefecture and Jeollanam-do Friendship Pact

Saga is a small, largely rural prefecture with a population of about 800,000 between Fukuoka and Nagasaki and next to the Sea of Japan. The prefectural government this month signed a friendship agreement with Jeollanam-do of South Korea. Saga Gov. Furukawa Yasushi called it the first step in the prefecture’s plan to develop greater ties with regional governments throughout Asia. At the signing ceremony, Jeollanam-do Gov. Bak Joon-yung said he believed the agreement will help promote ties between the two countries, not just the two regions. It is Saga’s first friendship agreement with a local government from a foreign country.

* Starflyer Plans Busan Route

Kitakyushu-based budget airline Starflyer announced plans to begin roundtrip flights to Busan in July 2012. There are already many flights between Busan and Incheon in Korea and Fukuoka and Kitakyushu in Kyushu, as well as several high-speed ferries operating between the Port of Hakata and the Port of Busan. Starflyer intends to establish a niche in the highly competitive market with early morning and late night flights.

* Ferry Service Begins between Gwangyang and Shimonoseki/Kitakyushu

Gwangyang Ferry of South Korea will begin ferry service between the city of Gwangyang in South Korea and the cities of Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu in Japan. (Shimonoseki is in Yamaguchi Prefecture, just across a narrow strait from Kyushu.) The ferry will have a capacity of 740 passengers and make two round trips a week to Shimonoseki. It will also sail once a week to Kitakyushu on a trial basis. The operators see the potential for demand from travelers (and freight shippers) from the western and southern parts of the Korean Peninsula to Kyushu. Gwangyang is South Korea’s second largest container port after Busan. Currently, people traveling between the two cities by sea have to go through both Busan and Fukuoka City.

* Fukuoka City Sponsors Educational Homestays with Busan, South Korea

Fukuoka City sponsored 10 first-year junior high school students from Busan, South Korea, for a local homestay for six days through the 17th to provide them with an understanding of junior high school life in Japan. The students attended English and other classes at three junior high schools, and teachers from both countries took the opportunity to get better acquainted. Fukuoka City said its objective is to help foster children with an international perspective.

* South Korea’s Jin Air to Operate Budget Charters to Saga Airport

Low-cost carrier Jin Air of South Korea began to fly regularly scheduled charter flights from Incheon Airport in Seoul to Saga Airport for tourists, which will continue until 1 March. They plan to operate a total of 19 round trips in all. They are the first flights by any low cost carrier into Saga Airport.

* South Korean Baseball Team Shifts Camp from Miyazaki to Beppu

Last year’s foot-and-mouth epidemic among livestock in Miyazaki Prefecture (and the new outbreak of avian flu there last week) could have kept the Dusan Bears of South Korean professional baseball from their annual training camp in Miyazaki, but they came anyway for a shorter session. They’ll move to Beppu in Oita on the 26th.

OK, I’ll cheat. Here’s one from last month

* Record High for Air Busan’s Occupancy Rate

Air Busan, which launched daily roundtrip flight service between Busan, South Korea, and Fukuoka City last March, revealed they had a flight occupancy rate of 83% for the month of November, the highest monthly rate ever on the route. The rate from May to September ranged from the 60th to the 70th percentiles, but the higher yen and lower won began to have an impact in October. The increase came mostly from Japanese passengers.

OK, I’ll cheat again. This one includes China

* Regional Economic Partnership Agreement in Works

Ten cities in Japan, South Korea, and China, the members of a group promoting economic exchange in East Asia, held their fourth meeting in China and signed a memorandum agreeing to create an economic partnership agreement for the Yellow Sea rim region. The group includes four Japanese cities, including Kitakyushu, Fukuoka City, and Shimonoseki; four Chinese cities, including Dalian; and three South Korean cities, including Busan and Incheon. The idea is to create a free trade agreement of their own in the region without waiting for their respective national governments.

We’re going to be reading the inevitable Closed to the Outside World stories about Japan written by the bien pensants in the upcoming months as the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks get serious. Let’s see how many of these stories will be mentioned, particularly the last one.

******
American journalist P.J. O’Rourke has spent much of his career traveling overseas as part of his work. He once wrote that the best way to improve international relations was to sleep with someone from overseas.

In that spirit…

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7 Responses to “Still more true facts”

  1. Robert said

    I am delighted to see this article. It is in everyone’s interest to strengthen ties between Japan and South Korea, and I sincerely hope that South Koreans in particular are learning to appreciate that fact.

    (Re: South Korea’s Jin Air to Operate Budget Charters to Saga Airport: I flew Jin Air between Seoul and Jejudo recently; they were not only cheap, but offered excellent service too).

  2. Andrew in Ezo said

    I wonder how much of this supposed mutual non-amity is driven by government-imposed Anti-Japanese educational curriculum in Japan’s neighbor countries (hannichi kyouiku), which help to divert attention away from domestic problems. As far as my personal experience living in Japan for 15+ years and professionally involved in secondary education, no such equivalent exists in Japan, and overall the general population holds no hatred for its neighbors, despite a rising concern of China’s power and the occasional Takeshima/Dokdo histrionics in S. Korea. Even then, the general reaction to hannichi drum beating among the populace seems to be “meh”, as it would be in any mature society.
    ———
    AIE: Thanks for the note.

    I agree with your observations about Japan, and would add that the South Korean print media is the very defintion of yellow journalism in this regard. You know how if an American president becomes unpopular in some circles, even newspaper movie reviewers writing about a Disney flick take cheap shots at him? That’s the South Korean press about Japan, 24/7.

    – A.

  3. I’ve only been to Japan a couple of times, but I lived in Korea for several years (which may not make me an expert, but I do believe counts for something) and I would say that it’s a totally fair statement to say that Koreans hate Japanese. True, perhaps it is not 100% of Korean, but it’s not far off. In my three years there I was constantly accosted by anti-Japanese sentiment. It came from the newspapers and TV, from the old and young, rich and poor. If I was foolish enough to venture a question about Japan I would have to spend the next hour listening reasons why they are collectively the devil. I can only recall two Korean people ever speak positively of Japan during my time there (and they talk about Japan all the fucking time). One was a girl who admitted that Japanese electronics were superior and the other was my boss, who spent most of his life in America and was fantastically liberal.

  4. toadold said

    I read some Korean in English news sites, and the place is definetely bi-polar about Japan. On the same site there was a story about one of the remaining “comfort women” who was taken by the Japanese Imperial Army at the age of 15 at the start of WW II. Then there is the story about an older Japanese woman who was a fanatic fan of a particular Korean soap opera star. Apparently there are a lot of fans of Korean soap operas in Japan. Anyway she came over from Japan to Korea made the rounds to a few of the studios and fan sights and after a while dropped out of sight. Now everybody and their dog is looking for her.

    As a side note:
    Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945 , by Edward J. Drea

    “Perhaps the most valuable contribution made in this book, is Drea’s discussion of how the Imperial Army underwent a distinctive change following the First World War, when technical prowess began to give way to a mania for “spirit” as a militaristic ethos developed. This helps explain how an army that could win praise from foreign observers for its logistical efficiency, medical services, and adherence to the law of war during the Russo-Japanese War and the Great War, came to perpetrate the Nanking massacre, engaged in massive brutality toward prisoners, and could neither feed its troops nor protect them from disease.
    An essential read for anyone with an interest in the history of East Asia and the Pacific region, as well as military institutions”
    ————
    T: Thanks for the note.

    You might find this to be of interest as well.

    – A.

  5. toadold said

    Yes that is interesting in light of what further reading on my part brought up the translated phrase, “hanging out the comfort woman sign.” It seems there are some financial benefits for women who do that who are willing to live with the stigma and play the game.

  6. toadold said

    Oh just peach keen:
    “TOKYO, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Rating agency Standard & Poor’s cut
    Japan’s long-term sovereign debt rating on Thursday for the first
    time since 2002, saying the government lacked a coherent plan to
    tackle its mounting debt.”

    Japan has wriggle room because of its large domestic savings deposits but the thing that scares me is that if Japan get’s in trouble everybody gets in trouble. Japan is one of the big creditor countries, if they have to start calling in the loans early. Ouchy.

  7. Andrew in Ezo said

    Slightly (?) OT, but I was interested in seeing the reaction from the Asian press (and the inevitable Western mirroring of opinions) about the winning goal scored by Lee Tadanari in the Asia Cup football finals. Being that Tadanari is a naturalized Japanese of Korean descent, it would generate the more than usual interest from non-fans, I assumed. Sure enough, here is an article from Straits Times:
    http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story/STIStory_630934.html

    Headline: “Japan embraces ethnic Korean star but many face discrimination”

    But there is no mention of said discrimination in the article body, and there is a weak caption mentioning “a minority of Japanese netizens were unhappy that the winning goal had come from a naturalised Korean player”. I guess that’s evidence that Japanese hate Koreans and discriminate relentlessly against Zainichi, kind of like how white Americans are all secret racists, based on the number of US-based extremist hate groups and their web presence. Sheesh…

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