Japan from the inside out

Posts Tagged ‘Takeshima’

Ichigen koji (274)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 30, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

South Korean historical scholar Cheong Jae-jeong’s statement that Takeshima is the same as Mt. Fuji for the South Korean people is absurd. The intellectuals and the mass media give their full support to the government’s propaganda that small islets which had no meaning for them 60 years ago are now the symbol of the race. Cheong is affiliated with the Korean Northeast Asian History Foundation, which is a propaganda organ. It would be pointless to conduct joint historical research with them.

– The Tweeter known as Aceface

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

Ichigen koji (257)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

– 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 »

Shimojo Masao (19): The misapprehensions of the Takeshima issue

Posted by ampontan on Friday, November 23, 2012

Japanese diplomacy in recent years has been the captive of territorial issues with neighboring countries and in a state of disorder from historical issues. The problem originated with two incidents.

The first was on 7 September 2010 when patrol vessels of Japan’s Coast Guard were deliberately rammed by a Chinese fishing boat. The other occurred on 10 August 2012. That was the date of the performance of President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, who became the first South Korean president to go ashore on Takeshima. Why did these incidents develop into historical issues, and why did they become diplomatic cards for use in condemning Japan? The reason is simple.

There is a tradition in China and South Korea for using historical issues as diplomatic cards. The negligence of the Japanese government means that their response has been as the two countries hoped. In fact, the Japanese government simplistically publicized dialogues about history textbooks and the comfort women without clarifying the actual state of affairs in the hope that the problems would blow over. As a result, they adopted the “neighboring country clause” in the 1980s that adopted a consideration of the wishes of neighboring countries when editing textbooks. They also issued the Kono Declaration about the comfort women that included a reference to the Japanese military, even though they were unable to confirm that the military engaged in compulsion.

The distortion of historical fact is a serious problem for South Korean history textbooks, however. South Korea claims it was Japan that seized Takeshima, when in fact the opposite is true. In regard to the comfort women, South Korean brokers operated comfort women facilities during the Korean War in the 1950s that UN forces patronized. Also, South Korean military forces that fought in the Vietnam War patronized comfort women facilities where Vietnamese women were employed.

While there is no question that the issue of war and sex is one that human society must overcome, that issue remains as part of the military base issue. American service personnel have repeatedly assaulted women both in Okinawa, where most of the American bases in Japan are located, and in South Korea.

In this context, South Korean claims about the comfort women issue differ from the actual circumstances. After then-LDP Vice-President Kanemaru Shin visited North Korea in the 1990s and raised the issue of postwar reparations, citizens’ groups in South Korea began calling for postwar reparations to resolve the comfort woman issue. What those groups seek is to recover the honor of the women by using the Japanese military. The South Korean government resolved that issue, however, with the 1965 treaty that normalized relations between that country and Japan.

The 1993 announcement of the Kono Declaration that incorporated South Korean considerations and referred to military involvement caused a significant change in the South Korean position. With the Japanese government’s recognition of military involvement, they demanded compensation from Japan and began to employ the international community as a stage to castigate the Japanese. President Lee’s demand for the resolution of the comfort woman issue and an apology from the Emperor in August 2012 was another South Korean government attempt to justify their occupation of Takeshima that has continued since 1954.

But the Takeshima issue is completely unrelated to the comfort woman issue. Why has it been argued that they are related? Here we should bring up a distinctive aspect of South Korean society today. Takeshima became Japanese territory with the Cabinet resolution of January 1905. Takeshima at that time was terra nullius, land unclaimed by any country. (That fact has now been validated.) The South Korean government seized it from Japan in January 1952 with its declaration of the Syngman Rhee (Yi Seung-man) line. That country’s government has tried to cover up the fact of that seizure by using the diplomacy card of past historical issues, including the comfort women and an Imperial apology.

South Korea seized the islets three months before Japan was to regain its standing in the international community with the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Japan’s Constitution prohibits the use of military force to resolve international disputes, and diplomatic negotiations with South Korea at the time would have been difficult. Using the Syngman Rhee line as a basis, the South Korean government engaged in hostage diplomacy by detaining and holding a total of 2,791 Japanese fishermen until relations were restored in 1965.

The Japanese government proposed to South Korea in September 1954 that it resolve the Takeshima dispute by taking it to the International Court of Justice, but the Koreans refused one month later. Instead, they claimed that Takeshima was “the first sacrifice in Japan’s invasion of Korea”. That’s because Japan incorporated the islets in 1905 and the two countries merged in 1910.

But the South Korean historical awareness is an interpretation of the past from a contemporary perspective. Therefore, it is inevitable that it would not be based on historical fact. This criticism of the past from a contemporary perspective and seeking a settlement is a cultural phenomenon that originates in party factional struggles during the Joseon period. Every time there is a presidential succession in South Korea, the old president is accused of crimes and an accounting sought. That involves the criticism of the previous administration by the person who is the head of the new administration. It is a means by which they emphasize their legitimacy.

At the end of his term of office, President Lee Myung-bak landed on Takeshima to win popular acclaim. The suicide of President Roh Moo-hyun was a tragicomedy that arose as a result of the political culture of the Korean Peninsula. From that milieu, South Korea has repudiated entirely the facts of Japanese rule. Driving their impulse to justify their nation-state is a tradition of criticizing the previous administration that has survived into the 21st century.

But it is not possible for a country that screams about Japan as an invader to justify its illegal occupation of Takeshima. That’s because there is no historical basis for the claim that the islets were Korean territory. The South Koreans claim that Takeshima was Korean territory 1,500 years ago. The grounds for that claim is the notation for 512 in the Samguk Sagi of 1145, a historical record of the three ancient kingdoms of Korea. It is recorded that the Usan territory was part of the Silla Kingdom. The South Koreans think Takeshima had to have been one of the ancillary islands of Usan.

But the notation for 512 in the Samguk Sagi and the Samguk Yusa of the late 13th century (a collection of legends and folktales about the Three Kingdoms) state that the Usan territory was the island of Ulleong. There is no mention of Takeshima being an ancillary island. To make the claim that Takeshima was an ancillary island of Ulleong, they quote a passage from the Yeojiji in the Dongguk Munheon Bigo, which dates from 1770. That passage reads, “Ulleong and Usan are all part of the Usan territory. Usan is therefore the Japanese (territory) Matsushima (now Takeshima).” Thus the chain runs from the 512 incorporation of Usan into the Silla Kingdom, and the idea that Takeshima was the island of Usan which was ancillary to Ulleong.

But the original text of the Yeojiji does not state that Usan was the Japanese territory of Matsushima. All it says is that Usan and Ulleong were the same island. The text quoted in the Yeojiji was rewritten in the process of being edited for inclusion in the Dongguk Munheon Bigo. Thus, South Korea has created a false history from text that was altered, and uses that as the basis for its claim that Takeshima was Korean territory 1,500 years ago. Therefore, South Korea has no historical title from which to claim territorial rights. They have mobilized the comfort woman issue and an Imperial apology to condemn Japan as an invader, and use that as the means to stifle Japanese objections. This can only deceive the international community.

The South Korean historical awareness that Takeshima was the first sacrifice of the Japanese invasion of Korea is a misapprehension that ignores history.

– Shimojo Masao, Takushoku University

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

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 »


Posted by ampontan on Saturday, November 3, 2012

IF there’s a heaven on earth for South Koreans, this has got to be close: The chance to slather their righteously bitter resentment on the Chinese and the Americans simultaneously over a millennia-old historical issue that most people don’t know exists. The Chosun Ilbo explains:

The U.S. Senate is to publish a report on the historical and geopolitical relationships of Northeast Asian nations which claims that Korea’s ancient Koguryo and Balhae kingdoms were provinces of China’s Tang Dynasty….The report details China’s views that the Koguryo and Balhae kingdoms were Tang provinces and explains that Korea’s Chosun Dynasty and China’s Qing Dynasty set their territorial boundaries along the Apnok (or Yalu) and Duman (or Tumen) rivers using a point on Mt. Baekdu as a reference.

All hands on deck! To battle stations!

The ministry has sent experts from the Northeast Asian History Foundation to the CRS to explain South Korea’s position, which is apparently also reflected in the report.

Not to worry. Truth, justice, and the Joseon Way will prevail:

“The report simply details Chinese claims and does not reflect the official stance of the U.S. Senate,” said the Foreign Ministry official.

The Chosun Ilbo doesn’t provide any details for how that situation in the last sentence came about. The Congressional Research Service prepared the report as background information in the event that unrest in North Korea causes the Chinese to intervene. The CRS explained that to the South Koreans, but people have a hard time hearing when they plug their ears. The Northeast Asian History Foundation of South Korea met with representatives of the CRS to “explain the South Korean government’s position” (which suggests that the foundation is a government-funded enterprise). The South Korean embassy also sent officials to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to get on their gripe. As one Korean academic put it in the Japanese reports:

China claims that Goguryeo and Balhae were theirs. There is the danger their claim would be recognized by the international community.

With such diplomatic firepower brought to bear over an issue so trivial, the CRS decided to save themselves the aggravation and insert a clause into the report saying it was only the Chinese position. That’s what the Korean foreign ministry official parroted for the Chosun Ilbo.

The Chinese had some trenchant observations about the tempest in the Korean teapot. Explained the normally over-the-top Global Times:

South Korea criticized the Americans for distorting history.

An expert on matters involving the Korean Peninsula at the Liaoning branch of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said:

History should be considered apart from contemporary politics, and it should be explained as history. The report from the American Senate that Goguryeo was subordinate to the Chinese central government is the mainstream view, and is not a pro-China bias at all. It’s just a South Korea exaggeration.

This is Northeast Asia. Everybody here knows the South Koreans exaggerate. Everybody.

The mass media in this part of the world considers it newsworthy to quote comments on websites and message boards. (No one in the Anglosphere would dare.) Perhaps they think it’s a reflection of public sentiment, or the voice of the Man In The Street. (Come to think of it, they might be right, but that prospect is too chilling to contemplate.)

Thus, Japanese reports included the following messages from the South Korean Internet:

* “Is the United States crazy?”

* “We can no longer say that the United States is a friendly country.”

Another commenter lamented that Goguryeo was stolen by China, and Google had deleted Dokdo, the Korean name for the Takeshima islets, from its maps. The latter case doubled the fun for South Koreans. It might also have added to the workload of the Ambassador for Geographic Naming, which is an official position at the Northeast Asian History Foundation.

Speaking of which, here’s more from the Chosun Ilbo:

The Korean name of the Dokdo islets has almost disappeared from major online maps, with Apple deciding to show both the Korean and Japanese names in its new English-language mapping service for the iPhone.

When it was unveiled last month, the iPhone mapping service showed only the Korean name, but protests from Japan, which maintains a flimsy colonial claim to the islets, persuaded Apple to change its mind.

No, that’s not an op-ed. That’s as straight as South Koreans are capable of making a news story.

Under similar pressure from Japan, Google recently deleted the Korean address of the islets on its map service entirely.

When someone can convince both Apple and Google to take a step they know will outrage a nation of drama queens whose favorite pastime is being outraged! outraged! over national honor, and they know it brings with it the potential for losing business, then perhaps it’s not a flimsy colonial claim after all. Maybe it’s the truth.

Or maybe after the Dokdo pitch trot at the London Olympics and the Korean effort to ban the Rising Sun flag internationally has started in motion the same eye-rolling that’s been going on in Japan for the past half-century.

Until July of this year, Apple also named the islets “Takeshima” and “Liancourt Rocks.” It only switched the name to Dokdo in September following protests from the Korean government but now changed its name again. “It seems Apple reflected Japan’s position because the market there is much bigger than Korea’s,” the official said.

Yes, the Little Man Complex is a geopolitical factor for one country in this part of the world. Why do you ask?

Tokyo is also aggressively lobbying against Seoul’s efforts to have the body of water separating them referred to as the “East Sea.” Hungary and Austria decided to show the body of water as both East Sea and Sea of Japan on their official maps just before the UN Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names in August this year. But they omitted the decision in country reports they submitted to the UN body after protests from Tokyo.

Tokyo is “aggressively lobbying” while Seoul is making “efforts”, eh? In addition to the Northeast Asian History Foundation, VANK — also partially funded by the South Korean government —- has been “making efforts” to support the various international agitations spawned on the Korean Peninsula.

The South Koreans have also been making “efforts” to get the name changed to whatever the Japanese don’t call it at the UN Conference since 1992. They’ve done the same at several sessions of the International Hydrographic Organization, which has jurisdiction in the matter. The IHO has repeatedly rejected the South Korean claims.

Could that be because they know the South Koreans among themselves call the Yellow Sea the West Sea, but don’t blow the bugle and call out the history foundation, VANK, or embassy apparatchiks to make an issue of that one.

But here’s another one they do make an issue of:

PALISADES PARK — A Korean civic group says a memorial dedicated to the memory of women forced into sexual slavery during World War II was defaced on Friday. The group, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) said in a statement that the “comfort women” memorial was “defiled with a stake by an unidentified perpetrator.” Police were notified and are conducting an investigation, the statement said.

This is an American newspaper, so KACE knows they’d be laughed out of the newsroom if they tried to get away with the phrase they use in South Korean newspapers for similar incidents: Stake Terror!

By the way, the American reporter couldn’t be bothered to report that the stake said “Takeshima is our land”.

KACE noted in its statement that similar comfort women memorials have been defaced by vandals of Japanese descent, but a suspect in the Palisades Park case has not been identified.

Defaced? Nah. They’ve been victimized by “Stake Terror”!

Rather than the stake, it is this Korean monument based on a fabrication — note the Japanese soldier in the picture — that defaces American soil. None of this “aggressive lobbying” belongs on public property anywhere outside of the Korean Peninsula. Then again, the people in Bergen County seem to have a taste for this sort of thing:

The county announced recently that it is erecting its own comfort women memorial, alongside monuments dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and the Irish Great Hunger, outside the Bergen County Courthouse.

The application of the American melting pot concept means that the Wailing Wall isn’t just for Jerusalem any more. Instead of “give us your tired, your hungry, your poor”, in Bergen County it’s “give us your grievance mongers, grudge nursers, and congenital malcontents”.

Meanwhile, some people in South Korea have put their cognitive abilities into a blind trust by attributing this incident to a “right-winger”. That misses the point, because it assumes everyone to the right of the Social Democrats, the Communists, and the left wing of the Democratic Party of Japan (and even some of them) have somehow become “right-wing”. It also contains the assumption that memorials to the domestically deified comfort women become The Holy Land wherever they’re transported.

There are two possible reasons for this. The first is that they’ve been duped by the decades of anti-Japanese (and anti-American) rhetoric of the South Korean left, which created the linguistic parameters as part of their agitation in the second half of the 20th century.

Indeed, that’s why the Lee Myung-bak statements about the Japanese Emperor and visit to Takeshima broke the thread for the Japanese. They knew the rhetoric was left-driven and discounted it (to an extent) for that reason. Mr. Lee, however, is not of the left. When he took office, he promised to behave differently, and the Japanese believed him. He kept his promise until the South Korean economy went south again, and the public prosecutors’ investigations of various financial scandals approached Mr. Lee himself.

Perhaps the Japanese were being naive. The long arm of the law catches up with all South Korean presidents (or their families and associates) eventually.

The second possibility is that they’ve abandoned the clear view and the cool head and decided to jump into the bottom of the well with the wall-seeing frog. Forgive them, for they know not what they croak.

One even called the Stake Terrorist an “asshat”, a popular term among some on the Internet these days. I prefer “Merry Prankster”. Who better to puncture the hot-air balloon of self-importance, fabricated outrage, and industrial strength whingeing?

The events of this August have started to rebound in ways that might not be to the Koreans’ linking, as they’re starting to find out. The Japanese have started to push back, and no one should be surprised if their push is more effective than the one from Seoul. It’s easy for most people to see the difference between the rational and the monomaniacal.


No sooner had I posted this than I saw a report stating that the aforementioned VANK conducted demonstrations in front of Google and Apple headquarters in California with about 10 people.

They carried signs that read, “No Takeshima, Yes Dokdo” and “No Sea of Japan, Yes East Sea”.

The leader of the pack told the media that “the Korean people were angry” over the Google and Apple maps, and considered them “infringements of South Korean territorial sovereignty”.

Yeah, that’s the way to get taken seriously.


Then again, not all South Koreans are angry at the Japanese. They’re still offering that good old-fashioned Korean hospitality. The outrage in this case is that of a Japanese parent. Here’s an English-language translation of a Korean article describing some hectic hey-hey for Japanese guests in Incheon:

The e-mail claims that two Fukuoka University professors who came to Incheon University from August 13th to 17th as part of an international Korean cultural exchange festival were treated to trips by the University. The festival was attended by the two Japanese professors and 20 students majoring in business. In the e-mail, the parent wrote that “these children participating in the festival said they had ‘realized their hopes for sex’ and said similar degrading things.”

Dang, I guess I missed the boat for that kind of international exchange.

Nathan Schwartzman closes the article by saying “Kisaeng diplomacy was originally deployed by the Park Chung-hee government.” He adds a Wikipedia link.

Kisaeng can also be written as gisaeng. Kim Hak-sum, the woman whose career brought the comfort woman issue to a boil in the early 1990s, was a gisaeng. She said her stepfather sold her to a Korean comfort woman broker. Kim came to Japan after the war to claim payment for her then worthless scrip that she was paid for her services during the war.

Eventually, however, she changed her story and claimed a Japanese soldier abducted her in China. The Vankers or somebody similar wrote that she was a “human rights activist” on her Wikipedia page.


*Japanese reports noted there was no mention of Jiandao (or Gando in Korean) in regard to the China/South Korea argument referenced in the first article above. That’s 42,000 square kilometers of swampland in the same area that is now part of China, with about 810,000 ethnic Koreans. Some Koreans think that’s another plot of land that rightfully belongs to The Korean Nation. The Japanese did too, in 1907-1909.

* The Northeast Asian History Foundation is sponsoring its 3rd International Dokdo Essay Contest:

The Korea Times and the Northeast Asian History Foundation invite foreigners as well as Koreans to participate in an English-language essay contest on the territorial sovereignty over the Dokdo islets.

The essay contest is aimed at exploring Korea’s and Japan’s claims, and the root cause of the territorial dispute over the rocky islets sitting halfway between the two neighboring countries.

Applicants are required to submit an essay of about 800 words on the theme “Why was Dokdo omitted in the final version of the San Francisco Peace Treaty?”

That theme doesn’t require 800 words. Eleven will do nicely: “It was omitted because the Americans realized it wasn’t Korean territory.”

Need some more? “The Americans also realized that when it came to matters Japanese, the Koreans were wack before the slang was coined.”

* Bad news for China, if true, from the Investing in Chinese Stocks website:

(T)he sources said that the Politburo Standing Committee’s likeliest line-up was now packed with conservatives including vice-premier and Chongqing party chief Zhang Dejiang, 65, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, 65, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng, 67, and Tianjin party chief Zhang Gaoli, 65.

They said the biggest surprise was the omission of two reform-minded protégés of party general secretary Hu Jintao – party organisation department head Li Yuanchao, who turns 62 this month, and Guangdong party chief Wang Yang, 57 – mainly due to their relative youth and opposition from conservative party elders, including former premier Li Peng.

* Bad news for China (and the rest of us), part two, from the Epoch Times:

(T)he most recent method for gaining advantage employed by Zhou Yongkang was what the source termed the “suicidal attack” against Wen Jiabao. The article published in The New York Times is understood by Party insiders as serving the agenda of Zhou Yongkang, the insider said.

The attack on Wen Jiabao was preceded in June by a similar article in Bloomberg exposing the wealth of Xi Jinping’s family. According to the news website Boxun, the Bloomberg article was considered by a faction affiliated with Bo Xilai as practice for the article on Wen Jiabao.

Rumors are now circulating in Beijing that a similar article exposing the wealth of Hu Jintato’s family is in the works.

* Bad news for China (and the rest of us), part three, from Foreign Policy via the China Digital Times:

(T)he country’s gender imbalance —120 boys for every 100 girls—has put serious pressure on the nation’s bachelors. Those hunting for a bride have come to understand that they should come calling only when armed with an apartment. This, even though “the average property in a top-tier Chinese city now costs between 15 and 20 times the average annual salary.”

You know as well as I do that the Chinese oligarchy is thinking they might make excellent cannon fodder.

Speaking of people who have decided to jump into the bottom of the well with the wall-seeing frog:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

– Thomas Friedman, the New York Times, September 8th, 2009

Scratch that — not all of them jumped in. Some people were born there. It’s all they know.

Maybe it’s time the Koreans dropped the Gangnam Style and took up this instead:

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

Shimojo Masao (17): Information war

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 28, 2012

THE debate over both the Senkaku islets and Takeshima, neither of which should be pending matters at all, has emerged as a major issue in East Asia. One factor is the inept diplomacy of the Japanese government. This situation will change, however, if the world is engulfed in an information war.

The South Korean news media reported yesterday that newspapers in both Spain and France criticized Japan over the Takeshima issue. The Europeans used the South Korean claim that Japanese documents exist which show the islets were not Japanese territory during the Edo period.

With these territorial disputes as a backdrop, the Russian and Chinese have begun making appeals to public opinion. This is dangerous, because the United States is now involved in a confrontation with the Muslim world. It is possible the Russian and Chinese trend could be employed for use in anti-American criticism.

There are problems with the Japanese diplomatic efforts at the United Nations. While China and Japan are couching the Senkakus and Takeshima territorial questions as historical issues, Japan is asserting that they are matters of international law.

The strategy is to brand Japan as invaders, linking the territorial issues to the comfort women in South Korea’s case, and to the Second World War in China’s case. Not only does this render the Japanese objection that there are no territorial issues meaningless, the stronger Japan speaks out, the more likely third parties will doubt what it says.

The UN Secretary-General is now a South Korean. China and Russia are permanent members of the Security Council. The Chinese have already distributed a paper to the council claiming that the Senkakus are Chinese territory.

Regardless of how often Japan insists there is no territorial issue, if the Chinese say that the Senkakus have been theirs since the 15th century, third parties will be likely to side with the Chinese claim. The mass media reports from Spain and France that side with South Korea are the result of South Korean PR.

There is no documentary evidence showing that the Japanese incorporation of the Senkakus and Takeshima was the result of an invasion. That some are making the entirely opposite interpretation shows there is a problem with the Japanese response.

Contemporary Japanese diplomacy has come to resemble that during the sequence of events from the Mukden Incident to the Second World War.

– Shimojo Masao, Takushoku University


Addressing the UN General Assembly session in New York, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said:

“The Diaoyutai have been Chinese territory since ancient times. We strongly urge Japan to immediately cease behavior that harms Chinese territorial sovereignty.”


“(Japan) should take definite action to correct its errors, and return to the course of resolving the dispute through negotiations.”


“Japan stole the islets at the end of the 1895 war….(The Japanese nationalization) is a serious challenge to the objectives and principles of the UN charter.”

Kodama Kazuo, Japan’s deputy permanent representative, exercised the right of rebuttal to argue that China didn’t begin to make this territorial claim until the 1970s. The Chinese UN ambassador came back with: “Japan persists in colonialism”.

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

Ichigen koji (174)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, September 17, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

There is plenty of evidence that Dokdo is our land, but there is no reason for us to respond to a judicial verdict that applies international law, in which lurks the logic of the power of the age of imperialism.

– Bak Byeong-seok, Korean researcher in Japan, on the Takeshima issue

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

A bad idea whose time shouldn’t come

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 14, 2012

AN excellent example of how the hammering of a hyper-chauvinist news media and the pandering of a corrupted political establishment can alter the public psyche was presented on the website of Ilgan Nyusu Gyeongnam (Daily News Geongnam) in South Korea late last month.

Here’s how reporter Chue Hyeon-shik began the article:

Japan’s continuous daily assault on all fronts on the Dokdo issue has created an atmosphere among Koreans in which more than half of the public thinks there should be a strong response if there is a military clash with Japan, a survey found.

Making “Japan” the subject of that sentence instead of the more accurate “Our” is a clear window into the state of South Korean journalism. Here’s why it’s inexcusably dangerous and not just the usual spitballing.

A South Korean company specializing in on-line surveys conducted a one-day poll of 105 adults using the Internet and smartphones on the potential Korean response to an escalation of the Takeshima dispute. Yes, it’s just an Internet survey, and yes, that’s a small sample size, but the pollster claims it has an accuracy rate of 95% with a standard deviation of ±9.56%.

Q: What should be the South Korean response if a military clash occurs with Japan over Dokdo?

* A strong forceful response: 56.2%

* A response in equal measure: 21%

* A diplomatic response with continued warnings: 22.9%

There is no word on whether the survey specified how the dispute was triggered. In the real world, Japan is as likely to be the first on the draw as a flock of geese is to fly upside down. After the South Koreans seized the islets by force in 1954, the only time concerns of a military incident arose is when the unbalanced Roh Moo-hyun gave his Navy permission to attack a Japanese survey vessel if it sailed too close. It happened when Abe Shinzo was prime minister, and he didn’t talk about it in public until a year or so ago. But back to the survey.

Q: What do you think of President Lee’s recent series of statements about Japan? (This includes the one about the Emperor.)

* Only natural: 42.9%

* Approve: 36.1%

Q: Did you know of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s personal letter to President Lee expressing his regret for the president’s actions? (This is the letter Mr. Lee refused to accept.)

* Yes: 92.9%

Q: What is the best response to the letter?

* This must be responded to forcefully: 61.9%

* No particular response necessary: 27.6%.

Q: What is the reason Japan claims Dokdo and other countries’ territories? (Note the reference to the Senkakus and the Northern Territories held by Russia.)

* It’s effective for acquiring natural resources: 47.6%

* It’s political pandering for a domestic audience: 33.3%.

Let’s assume that the claimed accuracy and the margin of error are correct. At a minimum, nearly half of South Koreans are ready to start shooting over Takeshima, and at a maximum, nearly two-thirds.

We should hope this is just another wave of the bluster/hysteria that often washes over the Korean Peninsula, and that they’re only talking tough because they know Japan isn’t going to start anything.

That’s because if an incident did occur, it would be very unlucky for them indeed.

The islets have sheer cliffs on all four sides, so land armies wouldn’t be involved. And no, Japan’s Land Self-Defense Forces are not going ashore at Busan anytime soon. Any confrontation would occur in the sea and in the air.

South Korea would be severely outgunned, particularly at sea. They’d be facing the loss of most of their Navy. One Japanese source that I haven’t confirmed says the Japanese are ranked second in the world in the number of destroyer-class ships or above (3,000 tons plus). They’ve also got more Aegis cruisers.

Some South Koreans might object and insist that their patriotism and national spirit to defend the holy islets would overcome a numerical disadvantage.

That’s just how the Japanese thought they’d win the Second World War, too.

The problem with talking the talk is that if it gets to be a habit, people get to thinking they can also walk the walk. That would prove to be fatal in this hypothetical case.

If any news media/national political establishment combination behaves more irresponsibly in matters this critical than that in South Korea (or China, for that matter), feel free to offer your suggestions in the Comment section. OK, OK, outside of the Middle East.

Here’s a Youtube video made in Japan that most Japanese haven’t seen. It’s a rapid rundown of all the ships in the Maritime Self-Defense Forces. Here’s a list of ROK naval vessels for comparison.

Posted in International relations, Mass media, Military affairs, South Korea | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ichigen koji (165)

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 8, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Since the (recent) expansion of the Dokdo (Takeshima) issue, Japan has taken measures of self-restraint in regard to the territorial dispute with China over the Senkakus. The prime minister sent a letter to the Chinese, and showed courtesy in every regard. Ishihara Shintaro, the ultra-rightist governor of the Tokyo Metro District, has wanted his local government to purchase the islets. The national government hurriedly intervened, fearing a collision with China. There was briefly some tension when the Russian president visited the Northern Territories (Southern Kuriles), but at present the Japanese show no signs of making this an issue. Now these people, from the prime minister to all the Cabinet ministers, are making up fictional stories about Dokdo. How long will South Korea and the South Korean people put up with this? It is a test of our capacity to endure.

– From a Chosun Ilbo editorial on 5 September, in Japanese

They seem to have forgotten what happened when the Japanese prime minister sent a polite letter to the South Korean president last month.

Posted in China, International relations, Mass media, Quotations, Russia, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Baba Masahiro on bilateral relations

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 8, 2012

Japan’s recent series of aberrant foreign policy actions is reminiscent of their history 100 years ago. After controlling Korea with military force, they turned Manchuria and China into a battlefield and started the Second World War, thus driving the people of Asia into the misery of war. It seems that Japan has learned nothing from its history.

– An editorial in the Chosun Ilbo on 22 August titled, “Japan Hasn’t Changed in the Slightest from 100 Years Ago”

BABA Masahiro is now a business consultant after a career in the IT industry. He also has a blog. Here’s most of a recent post in English that’s worth reading for its perspective on Japanese-Korean bilateral relations.

IN South Korea, it is as self-evident that Takeshima is South Korean territory as that the sun rises in the east. The only people who say the sun rises in the west are mad. When the Japanese claim that Takeshima is their territory, it means to South Korea that we are the sort of people who would make any sort of ridiculous claim.

The tendency to dismiss as malefactors those people who oppose one’s claims to the territory exists in Japan too, but the South Korean response is a type of distorted fundamentalism. In other words, beliefs have become absolute, leading to the level of full-bore attack on anyone in opposition.

South Korea also says that the Japanese claim to Takeshima is a manifestation of a growing shift to the right wing. While the effort to have references to the sovereignty over Takeshima put into textbooks might be partially due to the recent influence of the Right, the South Korean expression of this takes the form of: “It is not possible for serious and sane Japanese to think Takeshima is Japanese territory. The ones who argue so loudly about Takeshima are those crazy right-wingers.”

Perhaps that South Korean view is of some assistance in preventing a total confrontation between the two countries over this issue, but the belief that only some crazy revanchists in Japan claim Takeshima is obviously mistaken. While it might be correct to say that Japan was able to convince the world that Takeshima was its territory through the series of incursions into the Korean Peninsula that led to its military control and merger, this is by no means evidence that Takeshima is South Korean territory.

There is no question that the South Korean territorial claim is rooted in the vexation and grudge they hold towards the Japanese occupation. But with the perspective that any Japanese who won’t recognize Takeshima as South Korean territory is by that basis alone an evil revanchist, the South Korean attitude of making sweeping judgments is not helpful. One could even say that it is extremely dangerous.

In response to Japanese efforts to include an insistence on sovereignty over Takeshima in textbooks, senior members of the ruling Saenuri Party in South Korea declared they should make claims on Tsushima. This is not an idea that suddenly fell out of nowhere; some people in South Korea have made this claim for a while. Some in the Korean news media have suggested it is reasonable by saying, in effect, that’s one way to look at it.

It goes without saying that everyone on Tsushima speaks Japanese and considers themselves Japanese. The only way it could be made South Korean territory is through the use of force in a military occupation. The South Koreans who declare that Tsushima is their territory use several claims as their basis. One is that Korea once occupied it (more than 500 years ago), and another is that the antibodies in the blood of people from Tsushima have much in common with the people on the Korean Peninsula. Using that logic, however, the Mongolians could claim that South Korea is their territory.

I don’t know the level of support in South Korea for the Tsushima claim, but if they really believe it, they have, based on universal common sense, lost their senses. The South Korean explanations for their Takeshima claim sound as if they are coming from radical fundamentalists.

The Danger of a Head-On Confrontation with Fundamentalism

What should Japan do? The idea that “Those people are blindly making territorial claims, so we should make more claims ourselves” is the same as a game of “chicken run”, in which two drivers race toward a cliff to see who will be the last to turn away. In this game, the South Korean steering wheel is locked into place. No one’s going to turn it.

Rather than abandon claims to Takeshima, the best option for both countries would be to share fishing rights and (if any exist) mineral rights in the area around the islets. But that sort of compromise does not seem possible.

If one country is reluctant to turn the wheel in the chicken run (by formally abandoning its claim) because the other country won’t turn the wheel, the only thing to do for now is to stop the race for the cliff.

It often happens in both business and among nations that people come to resemble their enemies. Japan should not respond to South Korean fundamentalism with fundamentalism of its own. I can say with confidence that would not be beneficial either for the national interest or for world peace.

It is fortunate that while the South Korean language is over the top, their behavior is relatively moderate. They are unlikely to land military forces on Tsushima. If Japan does nothing, the fists they’re waving will strike only air.


* There already is a non-governmental fishing agreement in place over the use of the area around the islets by fishermen from both countries, but South Korean fishermen have not upheld it. The complaints of the Shimane Prefecture fisherman about the Koreans preventing them from fishing led to the Shimane declaration of Takeshima Day and the last controversy a few years ago.

Yesterday, however, Jeong Mung-jun, a national legislator in the Saenuri Party, called for the repudiation of that agreement. He also said:

“After the UN Law of the Sea went into effect in 1994, Japan declared that Dokdo (Takeshima) was the basis for their EEZ. This is a grave act of invasion that is on the level of a military threat.”


“South Korea often says that Japan is a friendly nation with whom we share the values of liberal democracy, but in the end, I wonder if Japan is really such a country.”

Mr. Jeong was the head of the South Korean committee in charge of arrangements in that country for the 2002 Japan-South Korea World Cup.

* I’ve known people from Tsushima. If you were to tell them they were really Korean and not Japanese, they would probably look at you as if you had said the sun rises in the west.

Speaking of imperialism, here’s Yurayura Teikoku. The word teikoku means empire, and yurayura falls into the territory of swinging, swaying, flickering, or waving. It can be used in such expressions as “Shadows dancing on the lawn” or “Smoke curling upwards”. Or maybe the gas floating up with the visual balloons in this video.

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

Ichigen koji (164)

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 7, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

Some conservative politicians believe that even though we showed a certain amount of consideration to South Korea, the South Korean president traveled to Takeshima. Therefore, consideration is no longer necessary.

– An op-ed in the Mainichi Shimbun, before polls showed that 90% of the public agrees with the conservative politicians

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

Discretion is the better part of censorship

Posted by ampontan on Friday, September 7, 2012

In South Korea today, the people who are anti-Japanese and anti-American are on the left. Anti-Japanese and anti-American sentiment is linked to patriotism, so in South Korea, the left is nationalistic. The (previous) Roh Moo-hyun administration, and its predecessor, the Kim Dae-jung administration, were left-wing nationalists. I want to emphasize this so it is not misunderstood.

-Furuta Hiroshi

THIS might come as a surprise to American readers, but people in East Asia still read the local editions of Newsweek magazine. Ikeda Nobuo, who is sometimes referenced on this site, writes for the Japanese edition. The Yonhap news agency of South Korea explains why the 10 September Asian edition had to be specially edited for that country.

The American magazine Newsweek has created a controversy with the latest issue of its Asian edition, which includes an article about Dokdo (Takeshima) that tilts toward Japan.
Yokota Takashi, the editor of the Japanese edition, said the article, titled “Why are Japan and South Korea Fighting over Rocks?”, “shows the irrationality of the South Korean attitude”. This is a one-sided presentation of the claims of the Japanese right wing. Such extreme phrases as “an out-of-control South Korea” and “a difficult-to-understand thought pattern” are used, and it is critical of South Korea throughout.

Mr. Yokota includes statements critical of South Korea by Thomas Schieffer, the former ambassador to Japan, such as “the irrational behavior of South Korea”. The article starts by saying the current Dokdo controversy was touched off by the sudden visit of Osaka-born Lee Myung-bak to show that he was not pro-Japanese. The article presents the view that the discord deepened with the “Dokdo Performance” by the South Korean footballer at the London Olympics, and President Lee’s demand that the Emperor apologize.

Further, it repeats the Japanese government’s claim that the islets have been Japanese territory since 1905, five years before the merger with Korea, that President Lee Sung-man (Syngman Rhee) unilaterally established the Lee Sung-man line in 1952, and that the South Korean occupation of Dokdo is illegal.

In consideration of the one-sided argument presented in the Asian edition, Newsweek Korea revealed that article was not in the Korean edition.

(end translation)

* Has Newsweek ever been accused of tilting to the right before? There you are. Pigs will fly.

* If this is how the country’s premier news agency deals with the facts, you can imagine what the country’s newspapers are like.

* “Irrational attitude…out of control…difficult-to-understand thought pattern…” When did Newsweek start practicing objective journalism? More pigs will fly.

* While it is regrettable that the people who most need to read the article won’t be able to, the decision to substitute some space filler in the Korean edition is understandable. The bottom line is more important than The Courageous Quest for Truth and Justice in journalism. The company is in enough financial trouble as it is without stimulating the Korean imagination to devise unusual ways of mutilating the magazine in public. That’s a shame, considering the entertainment value of Korean street demonstrations.

* Left-wing nationalists, eh? Let’s just say national socialists and be done with it. Statolatrists all. By the way, some of those Koreans who claim Tsushima is really their land too like to use as evidence shared blood characteristics. Isn’t that another one we’ve heard somewhere before?

* Reader Nigelboy yesterday sent in some links reporting that the Japanese Foreign Ministry was quietly presenting their side of the story to foreign embassies. Perhaps they applied their persuasiveness to Newsweek as well.

Considering the facts at issue, they shouldn’t have many difficulties making the case.

Miki Mie plays Rameau’s L’Egyptienne on the accordion. Borderless!

Posted in International relations, Mass media, South Korea | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Taking flight

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Japan today is surprisingly diverse, which creates a centrifugal force in society. Right-wing voices adorn the mass media, but that does not represent all of Japan. Many people aren’t interested in the Dokdo issue. More than a few feel ashamed about the military comfort women. Thus, we have one more wish. That is for the sound conscience of the Japanese people who would defend that diversity and centrifugal force…Our job is to shout encouragement to them from the side.

– 3 September editorial in South Korea’s Joongang Ilbo, titled “Grassroots Imperialism, Japan”, from their Japanese-language edition

All things that fly and crash have wings. If it is possible to refer to the group intelligence required for calmly considering history as a set of wings, Japan, which will crash from being a major power to a minor country, is wingless.

– Seoul University Professor Song Ho-gun in a 4 September editorial in South Korea’s Joongang Ilbo, titled “The Crash of Wingless Japan”, from their Japanese-language edition

ONE of these days, after the South Korean polity has reached adulthood, Japan will have to thank the Koreans for the favor they’ve done them, albeit unwittingly. If it’s possible for an entire nation to reach a consensus, there is now a consensus in Japan that President Lee Myung-bak stepped over the line with his behavior last month, and his countrymen have blindly followed. As often happens, no one realized the line was there until after it was crossed. Now everyone sees it.

The immediate effect has been to drive home the realization that the considerable Japanese efforts at reconciliation over the past 50 years in general, and 20 years in particular, have had all the effect of throwing water on a hot rock, as the proverb has it. Many in Japan have been aware of the alternative universe that exists on the Korean Peninsula as manifest in the first quote above, but overlooked it to promote better bilateral relations.

The president’s recent Takeshima visit and his statements about the Emperor has concentrated attention on the entire pattern of Korean behavior over decades. The toothpaste is now all out of the tube, and no amount of shouting from the side by the Joongang to the 5% or 10% of the country still listening will reflate it. It will be more water on another hot rock. As one Japanese Tweet had it, “It’s not ‘Oppose South Korea’, but ‘Disassociate from South Korea in Stages’.”

The signs of a new Japanese attitude are both subtle and overt. One of the former is the change in the description of the Takeshima islets now occupied by South Korea. In the past, the Japanese media referred to them as “Takeshima (South Korean name: Dokdo)”. Now it’s “Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture (South Korean name: Dokdo)”. Shimane was the local government with jurisdiction of the islets from 1905 until the South Koreans seized them in the early 1950s.

More overtly, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko has ditched the “Now, now, can’t we all get along” attitude of his predecessors (other than Koizumi/Abe) and crossed a line of his own by saying the South Koreans are occupying the islets illegally. The change is as significant as it is low-key. Where once there was vagueness there is now an unmistakable position.

Speaking for the Foreign Ministry, Foreign Minister Gemba Koichiro is now saying openly what the government had refrained from saying before. From an interview earlier this week on TBS radio:

“Japan established (Takeshima’s) territorial sovereignty during the Edo period when townspeople received permission from the Shogunate to catch abalone and seals. Because it was Japanese territory, American military forces designated it as a practice target range in 1952.“

He added:

“Many Korean documents (related to their claim to the islets) have inconsistencies, and there are many doubts about their reliability.”

Refer to the two related articles on the masthead and you’ll see that was actually an understatement. He concluded:

“Let’s resolve the dispute fairly and peacefully.”

By that, he means Japan intends to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice for third-party mediation.

That suggestion was countered by the suggestion in the South Korean news media that the Korean government might end all military exchange programs between the two countries if Japan takes the case to the ICJ.

South Korean Air Force officers were due to visit Japan Monday in an exchange program, but that visit was cancelled. The South Korean government cited Japan’s position on Takeshima as the reason.

Cadets from Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force were to visit South Korea on the 18th, but that visit was postponed. Said a Korean military official:

“We’ve concluded it would be difficult to force through military exchange with Japan in view of the growing anti-Japanese sentiment among the Korean people”

Yes, he said “force through”.

None of this was a surprise — South Korea also cited anti-Japanese sentiment when it cancelled the signing ceremony for an agreement to share military intelligence earlier this summer, 20 minutes before the ceremony was to be held. That was before the current wrangling gave them a better excuse.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? Was that a glimmer of sense from behind South Korean curtains yesterday when they scaled down a planned four-day drill to defend Takeshima from an “illegal” approach to the islets? From a Yonhap report:

“Previous exercises sometimes involved Marines rappelling onto the islets from helicopters if the weather was right. But this year’s drills won’t include any landing operations, a senior military official said.”

Declared the office of President Lee:

“We came to the conclusion that it wasn’t necessary…President Lee expressed with the utmost strength the political will to never accept the usurpation of our land.”

But they helpfully added:

“(The drill) was not for the purpose of fighting a war with a friendly country.”

That generated both domestic criticism of the South Korean government for showing “weakness toward Japan” as well as some confusion. Today in the Chosun Ilbo:

“It’s very possible that the significance of this year’s drill would have been greater than usual because it had attracted international attention. This is also one reason (it was called off).”

Thus started the speculation that the Americans had suggested they chill, or some in Seoul began to be concerned that a pointless military drill wouldn’t create a favorable impression overseas.

Japan also asked them through diplomatic channels to tone it down or cancel it. That might have been another factor, though it is inadmissable in the court of South Korean public opinion. The president’s office said:

“It is a mistake to say that we scaled down the drill because of Japanese opposition. It is for us to decide whether or not we conduct a drill, or the scale of any drill we do conduct.”

That brings us to the second passage above from Prof. Song about the wingless Japan’s tailspin into oblivion. By Jove, I think he’s got it — backwards. The events of the month have brought several existing currents into a greater focus and convergence that is more likely to result in the rediscovery of their wings.

That process had been underway for a while, but South Korean behavior has accelerated it. Other contributing factors were Chinese behavior during the incident involving the Senkakus two years ago this month, the ill-concealed Chinese designs on Okinawa as well as the Senkakus, the ill-concealed South Korean designs on Tsushima, the Tohoku triple disaster, the local impact of the international economic malaise, and the inability of the National Political Establishment to deal with any of these issues.

A new national resolve is forming which will mark the beginning of the end of the postwar regime. Already on the table as real possibilities are a radical restructuring of the system of governance, a revised Constitution that no longer has a Peace Clause — and indeed, a Japan That Can Say No.

I wouldn’t be too cocksure about any crash of the wingless Japanese. Unobserved by the rest of the world, they’ve lately noticed they still have wings. Thanks to South Korea, they’re starting to use them.


* At the end of July, President Lee Myung-bak apologized on national television for the scandals that have sullied his administration. His brother and two aides were arrested for bribery. Roughly 20 associates have now been indicted or convicted for corruption, including three relatives. He once described his own government as “morally perfect”.

Two weeks after his apology, he became the first South Korean president to travel to Takeshima, opening the current diplomatic breach.

* People in both countries will continue to behave as they always have, regardless of the behavior of their national governments. For example, Fukuoka City-based Kyuden Infocom, a subsidiary of Kyushu Electric Power, the region’s largest utility, said it will expand the services offered by the Kyushuro website it operates for South Korean tourists making reservations at Kyushu hotels and ryokans. It will now offer tourists the opportunity to make reservations at hotels and ryokans nationwide. About 2,000 South Korean tourists use the site every month, and the company expects to double that in three years. This decision was announced about a week ago. The largest private sector company in Kyushu and an active institutional investor does not make decisions such as these on a whim.

Cutting off the country’s nose to spite its face might be an emotionally satisfying vote-winner in South Korea, but the businesspeople in both countries know that’s bad for the bottom line. The growth of cross-strait economic ties in the Busan-Kyushu region could briefly slow, but it won’t stop.

* The translation of these and other selections from Korean newspapers is important, and they should be taken seriously. Knowing what people tell each other when they think no one is paying attention is beneficial for everyone, Koreans included.

Or do you find it uncomfortable that they come off like a sophisticated and educated version of the North Korean news agency?

Besides, it’s hugely entertaining to read an editorial in a South Korean national newspaper assuring their readers that Japan is surprisingly diverse.

UPDATE: More entertainment, this time from Xinhua in China:

South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday summoned a Japanese right-wing activist accused of defaming Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

The move came after surviving wartime sex slaves sued 47-year- old Nobuyuki Suzuki last month for defamation for tying a wooden stake to a symbolic statue of a young Korean woman, a monument to the victims of forced sexual slavery.

The statue, erected last year opposite the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul, has drawn protests from Japanese politicians and rightists.

The wooden post read “Takeshima is Japanese territory,”in reference to a set of South Korea-controlled islets at the center of the decades-long territorial dispute between the two Asian neighbors. The islets are known here as Dokdo.

Prosecutors have requested Suzuki, who currently resides in Japan, to appear for questioning on Sept. 18 and plan to seek his extradition in cooperation with the Japanese authorities if he snubs the summon.

Of course they’re going to seek his extradition. Isn’t that what countries always do when an act of terrorism was committed on their soil? From the Kyunghyang Shinmum:

It has been confirmed that the two Japanese men who placed wooden stakes with the words, “Takeshima (Japanese name for Dokdo) is Japanese Land,” at the Dokdo Research Institute and the War and Women’s Human Rights Museum on August 22 left the country shortly after their crime.

On August 28, Seoul’s Seodaemun Police Station announced that the suspects of the “Stake Terror” were two Japanese men, Haruki Murata (61) and Tetsuro Sakurai (38).

“Stake Terror”, eh?

Fly fast enough and it creates a sonic boom.

Posted in International relations, Japanese-Korean amity, Mass media, Military affairs, Social trends, South Korea | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, August 30, 2012

From the 7 August 2002 Donga Ilbo

The Society that Promotes Lies

Hong Chan-shik, Editorial Committee (Excerpt)

* Accounts that the Koreans are skillful liars have sometimes appeared in books written by foreign missionaries and preachers who visited in the latter part of the Joseon dynasty.

In the 1920s novelist Lee Gwang-su cited several shortcomings of the Koreans when he offered a proposal for remodeling the race. Lying was one of them.

Lying is still so chronic that one sometimes today hears the phrase “The Republic of Lies”. While I can’t deny it, I can’t agree with the view that this is due to the national character of the Korean people.

* There’s been a sharp increase in perjury in South Korean courtrooms

Courts are sometimes referred to a Theater of Lies. It is not impossible to understand why an accused party, driven into a difficult situation during a proceeding where others are arguing that he committed a crime, would easily resort to a lie, the Devil’s temptation.

Along with hearings, which have further degenerated into a Theater of Lies, this is a self-portrait of shame.

The problem is how to create a society in which the power of truth erupts and overflows, without the Korean people falling into self-condemnation.

What upright and proper states share throughout the world is a value system based on thrift and honest poverty. They are not bound by ties of blood to family and relatives.

As long as money and authority are the supreme constituent elements of society, an upright life, even in poverty, will be nothing but the butt of jokes. There will be no reduction of lies at all.

From the 13 February 2003 Chosun Ilbo

Perjury-Inundated Courtrooms

Bak Se-yong (Excerpt)

Perjury, in which innocent people are set up as criminals and the crime of the person who should receive the punishment is concealed, is running rampant in courtrooms. It is when a witness lies at a hearing to determine the truth, such a civil or criminal trial or an administrative lawsuit.

Prosecutors indicted 1,343 people for perjury in 2002. This is an increase of nearly 60% from the 845 indicted in 1998. That is one thing in criminal trials, where prosecutors are present, but civil trials have come to be known as a Theater of Lies.

The difference with Japan in particular, where there is almost no perjury, is clear from the statistics alone.

In 2000, 1,198 people were prosecuted for perjury in South Korea. Five people were prosecuted in Japan.

Allowing for the differences in population between the two countries, the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office says that perjury in this country is 671 times greater than in Japan.

The prosecutors say the primary reasons perjury is so prevalent are the social trend that doesn’t consider lies to be that serious, and the compassion in Korean culture. (情にもろい)

From The Collapse of South Korean Ethics, O Seon-hwa, 2008

Why has lying become so chronic in South Korean society?

I view this as having originated in the concept of the “Righteousness of Flesh and Blood” (身内正義) from the society based on strong blood ties during the days of the Joseon Dynasty. In that society, the unethical ethics arose that any unlawful act against someone from outside was permissible if it benefited one’s family (or group). Even today, this tradition runs riot, and has broken down into the concept of the “Righteousness of the Self”.

In my view, as long as society does not overcome this bad tradition, the trend will further strengthen toward a course further removed from righteousness, against a backdrop of the recent intensified market competition. This is how far South Korean society has decayed.

From the Yonhap news agency, 26 August 2012

Evidence of Dokdo (Takeshima) Domain Discovered at Site of Ancient Silla Fort?

A fort associated with Usan, subjugated by warlord (Kim) Isabu in the 6th century, was discovered in Gangneung, Gangwon, it was learned on the 26th. Ulleong and Dokdo (Takeshima) are viewed as the territory of Usan. This is the focus of interest as important historical evidence proving that Usan was a subject territory of Silla, and that Dokdo was part of the nation on the Korean Peninsula 1,500 years ago.

The discovered remains of the fort indicate that Isabu conducted an expedition to conquer Usan from a base in the Gangneung area. The remains of the fort are thought to date from the early 6th century. They were found at the site where it was planned to build a hotel.

The year 512, when the fort is thought to have been built, corresponds to the period Isabu, who subjugated Ulleoung and Dokdo, was the ruler of the Gangneung area.

(See this Korea Times article for additional information.)

From the 31 August 2011 edition of the weekly Shukan Post

The Dokdo Museum located on Ulleong is the only museum in South Korea devoted to territory. It has several surprising exhibits. One is a relief map at the entrance that claims Usan = Dokdo. The relative positions of Ulleong and Usan are shown based on the oldest surviving map of the Korean Peninsula, Paldo Jido (or Chongdo) (1530). To the left (west) is Ulleong, and to the right (east) is Usan, with a distance between them of 87.4 kilometers. But the actual map itself shows Usan to the left and Ulleong to the right. It is intentionally falsified material to show that Usan = Dokdo.

The display in the museum interior:

In fact, an accurate version of the map is carved in stone outside the museum. In other words, contradictory maps are openly displayed at the exterior and interior of the museum. The stone carving, incidentally, also claims that Tsushima is Korean territory.

According to the 5 May 2007 edition of the Sankei Shimbun, their reporter asked the museum about the relief map (at the front) and they said it would be “removed soon”. It’s still there after four years.

(According to a report in Japan’s Zakzak this week, it’s still there now.)

The Paldo Jido. Usan is the island to the left, and Ulleong is the island to the right in the Sea of Japan, as highlighted.

An accurate contemporary map, with Takeshima/Dokdo identified as the Liancourt Rocks. Ulleong is the unmarked island to the west:

From the Joongang Ilbo 29 August 2012

This map of Japan is included in the Shinsen Chishi geography textbook printed with the authorization of Japan’s Education Ministry in 1887. Both Ulleong and Dokdo (Takeshima) are within the horizontal line that demarcates Korean territory. The island within the circle in the magnified area is Dokdo. Japanese territory is shown by horizontal lines. (Photograph: Dokdo Museum)

Here is the map shown in the newspaper:

Readers are invited to offer possible explanations for how the horizontal line delineates Korean and Japanese territory.

Posted in International relations, Popular culture, Social trends, South Korea, Traditions | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

James Van Fleet

Posted by ampontan on Friday, August 17, 2012

AT the time of his death in 1992 at the age of 100, James Van Fleet was the oldest living general officer in the United States. He was a four-star general with a distinguished career in both Europe and East Asia.

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower sent him on a special diplomatic mission to South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and The Philippines. His report on that mission to the president was declassified more than 30 years later.

Here is an excerpt of that report. It is titled “Ownership of Dokto Island”.

“The Island of Dokto (otherwise called Liancourt and Take Shima) is in the Sea of Japan approximately midway between Korea and Honshu…This Island is, in fact, only a group of barren, uninhabited rocks. When the Treaty of Peace with Japan was being drafted, the Republic of Korea asserted its claims to Dokto but the United States concluded that they remained under Japanese sovereignty and the Island was not included among the Islands that Japan released from its ownership under the Peace Treaty.

“The Republic of Korea has been confidentially informed of the United States position regarding the islands, but our position has not been made public. Though the United States considers that the islands are Japanese territory, we have declined to interfere in the dispute. Our position has been that the dispute might properly be referred to the International Court of Justice and this suggestion has been informally conveyed to the Republic of Korea.”

Looks like the Republic of Korea didn’t take the American advice, did they?

In 1957, Gen. Van Fleet was the leader of a group who founded the Korean Society, described as “the first nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to the promotion of friendly relations between the peoples of the United States and Korea ‘through mutual understanding and appreciation of their respective cultures, aims, ideals, arts, sciences and industries.'”

After he died in 1992, the Korea Society instituted the annual James Van Fleet Award to recognize people who have made outstanding contributions to U.S.-Korea ties.

Yet people in South Korea — native Koreans and foreigners both — have lost their jobs for agreeing with Gen. Van Fleet and stating publicly that the islets are Japanese territory. That includes university professors, whose job is nominally to conduct research and determine the truth.

It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

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