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Unhappy anniversary

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A South Korean protester holds up a banner with images of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul during a rally Monday marking the 50th anniversary of the normalization between the two countries. The banner held by the protester reads: "The 50th anniversary of the normalization of ties between South Korea and Japan. Japan should apologize for its invasion of the Korean peninsula."

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South Korean-Japan relations always make me laugh because Japan is not the only one with historical amnesia and a revisionist agenda. Take for example, the South Korean President, Park Geun-hye, a person with more than a few skeletons in the cupboard. Like Mr. Abe's grandfather who joined a very exclusive club at the Sugamo Hilton after the war, Park's father, Park Chung-hee, was one of the oppressors of the Korean people back in the days of the good old Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Indeed, his talents as a lackey of the Japanese invader were so well recognized that he managed to graduate from a Japanese military academy. He even changed his name to Okamoto. You also have his track record of sorting out the students in 1979. However, all of these dirty little secrets are now rarely discussed. Park and Abe are little more than opposite sides of the same coin, second (or third) generation politicians who were born with a silver spoon wedged firmly in their mouths. Both countries should kick out their respective leaders.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Here is the problem: Both governments used the nationalism card to hide the fact that their domestic policies are useless. Now that N korea and China are rearing their heads the leaders of JP and SK want to fix it but now its too late. They've opened the flood gates of nationalism, and both sides are unable to stem the tides flowing in their respective countries. You have protests against the meeting of the 2 ministers on BOTH sides in their respective countries, and these aren't even the LEADERS of the country. Nationalism is a disastrous road to take. Never has it ended well. Never.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Christopher Glen: "Oh no, Japan modernised Korea, and liberated the people from the evil Chinese. The Koreans are ungrateful people for complaining to Japan. (Ironic)"

You forgot how Japan was only 'defending Asia' leading up to and in WWII, they gave modern education to their good buddies and neigbours, and even taught the people of Taiwan how to take baths! That's why all Taiwanese love Japan so much! A few 'regrettable' things happened, but that was not the fault of the imperial Japanese army -- they were away from home and did not know better. And anyway it was the pesky SKoreans in their ranks! There were no sex slaves -- only willing volunteers who made good money! They should LOVE Japan for their help!!

Like I said on the earlier picture of the day, SKorea and this guy have something legitimate to complain about. The zaitokoku or other radical groups who simply protest SKoreans because they don't like Japanese have zip to complain about that they aren't doing themselves.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Yeah, we've been through this in the past, and I've already proven your links irrelevant.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

there were over 240,000 Koreans serving in the Imperial Japanes armed forces dring WWII.

Korea never declared war on the west, Japan did that and because Korea was annexed they had no choice about helping Japan. Korea wasn't a signatory of the San Francisco Treaty. Under the Japanese National Mobilisation Law, 5,400,000 Koreans were labor conscripts. 670,000 were transported to mainland Japan and forced to work. 60,000 of them died. The total deaths of Korean forced labourers in Korea and Manchuria are between 270,000 to 810,000. The Koreans weren't drafted into military service until 1944 when the tide of WWII turned dire for the Japanese. In 1938 only 14% of Korean applications for the Imperial forces were accepted which dropped to 2% by 1943.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I've seen a lot of pro-Japan posters point out that during the 40 year colonisation, Korea has improved a lot in infrastructure, schools etc. There's truth in that, but there are records going back to 1894 which shows efforts within the Korean scholars to modernise itself, embracing foreign influence and technology. It's true Japan built schools and universities, as Japan wanted Korea to be part of its empire. Plus the early 20th century was the time in history that most of the world were transitioning into the modern era.

However Japan made efforts to ban aspects of Korean culture, teaching Japanese in its schools (my own grandmother speaks some Japanese to this day), and the commonest scare tactic used by parents when children are being naughty was to say "behave, or the Japanese guard will come after you", which goes to show they had a reputation for brutality.

As the Korean independence movement gained pace, Koreans calling for resistance were arrested, tortured and killed. And when the war began, Koreans were forcibly recruited to forced labour, by companies including the now Mitsubishi corporation.

Pro-Japan posters will want Koreans to acknowledge Japan's role in modernisation of Korea while trivialising the brutality, torture and murder of the Korean people.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@Heckleberry

I've seen a lot of pro-Japan posters point out that during the 40 year colonisation, Korea has improved a lot in infrastructure, schools etc. There's truth in that, but there are records going back to 1894 which shows efforts within the Korean scholars to modernise itself, embracing foreign influence and technology. It's true Japan built schools and universities, as Japan wanted Korea to be part of its empire. Plus the early 20th century was the time in history that most of the world were transitioning into the modern era.

If there are "records" of "efforts" of Korea to modernize by itself from 1894, then how come it was still a dirt-poor, foul city by the turn of the century, until the annexation? Isabella Bird Bishop, a British woman who traveled around Korea in this period wrote in her book "Korea and Her Neighbors" (1898) as follows:

I shrink from describing intra-mural Seoul. I thought it the foulest city on earth till I saw Peking, and its smells the most odious, till I encountered those of Shao-shing! For a great city and a capital its meanness is indescribable.

Yet it (Seoul) has no objects of art, very few antiquities, no public gardens, no displays except the rare one of the Kurdong, and no theaters. It lacks every charm possessed by other cities. Antique, it has no ruins, no libraries, no literature, and lastly an indifference to religion without a parallel has left it without temples, while certain superstitions which still retain their hold have left it without a tomb!

As I sat amidst the dirt, squalor, rubbish, and odd and endisra of the inn yard before starting, surrounded by an apathetic, dirty, vacant-looking, open-mouthed crowd steeped in poverty, I felt Korea to be hopeless, helpless, pitiable, piteous, a mere shuttlecock of certain great powers, and that there is no hope for her population of twelve or fourteen millions, unless it is taken in hand by Russia.

To sum up, I venture to express the opinion that the circumstances of the large population of Korea are destined to gradual improvement with the aid of either Japan or Russia.

However Japan made efforts to ban aspects of Korean culture, teaching Japanese in its schools (my own grandmother speaks some Japanese to this day), and the commonest scare tactic used by parents when children are being naughty was to say "behave, or the Japanese guard will come after you", which goes to show they had a reputation for brutality.

Hogwash. Of course, your Korean grandmother would know Japanese since Korea was under annexation; older Taiwanese people also know Japanese since it was taught in schools when their country was under Japanese rule. The fact is, Japan built many schools and published textbooks in Korean writing Hangul, which had long been abandoned as vulgar writing system by Koreans themselves. They would put the highest value on Chinese culture, not on their own. In addition, Japan abolished the outdated Korean social class system and accepted all Korean children equally to schools. This led to the rise of literacy rate of Koreans.

South Korea is guilty of far more outright revisionism than Japan is. Look how the photo shows a Korean claiming that Japan "invaded" Korea. Korea was never "invaded" it was annexed. There is not one battle between Korean and Japanese militaries leadug to that colonization, Meantie, there were over 240,000 Koreans serving in the Imperial Japanes armed forces dring WWII. They were busy INVADING other Asian countries and making use of the Comfort Stations. Pres Park Gyun Hye's own father was an Officer in the IJA, the Kwangtung Army no less in China! The moment Imperial Japan lost WWII, South Korea started re-writing it's history, highlighting only it's gripes and suffering under Japanese rule while ignoring it's benefits and advancements, and mostly it's role and particupation in WWII.

Agreed. Koreans really need to stop their engrained, emotion-based bias against Japan (if that's possible) and look at things from a more objective perspective. In addition to Bishop's book above, I recommend reading studies on the matter such as "The New Korea (1926)" by Alleyne Ireland and "Offspring of Empire (1991)" by Carter J. Eckert, Professor of Korean History at Harvard University.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan should apologize for its invasion of the Korean peninsula.”

It has but it's also allowed people to "exercise their freedom of speech" by denying Japan did anything wrong. Oh no, Japan modernised Korea, and liberated the people from the evil Chinese. The Koreans are ungrateful people for complaining to Japan. (Ironic)

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Nationalism is a disastrous road to take. Never has it ended well. Never.

Perhaps. But Japan could do its bit by stopping all this revisionism

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It has but it's also allowed people to "exercise their freedom of speech" by denying Japan did anything wrong.

Actually, I don't believe that the average person should be held back from exercising this freedom of speech. It's their right to bring it up. The problem is with the revisionist politicians, who should be held to a higher standard. They are the ones who should be restricted from revisionism. If the politicians were not making revisionist statements, then there wouldn't be an issue.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Koreans eat too much dog meat!

That's why they are a bit cuckoo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

LoL- now all we need is another catchy "Gangnum Style" tune to go along with that cool guy wearing the shades in this photo.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Exaggerating Japanese atrocities beyond what really happened to create hate to both Koreans and Japanese is hate speech of its own.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Exaggerating Japanese atrocities beyond what really happened... is hate speech of its own.

Ok, let us know if that ever actually happens.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Oh, how was it irrelevant?

Because it doesn't matter how they were 'acquired', or at least, it's secondary. What matters is that they were kept as sex slaves.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I hate the thought of sleeping on dirty sheets so I shower every night before bed in an attempt to maintain cleaner sheets. However, on a really hot & humid day (typical ins South Florida) I enjoy a shower after a dip in the pool.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh well. I'm sure there are plenty in Germany and Austria (themselves victims of the Nazis) who would disagree with you . Hate speech is hate speech, no matter who utters it.

I agree. Our difference of opinion is in what defines hate speech.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Your reasoning here is the same that politicians in Japan use. They were commenting in a "private capacity", and are thus permitted to spout their rubbish

Which simply means that politicians should be held to that higher standard even when commenting in a private capacity.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

facepalm

I wonder the mistrust between Japanese and Korean prejudice make the things even more difficult.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You forgot how Japan was only 'defending Asia' leading up to and in WWII, they gave modern education to their good buddies and neigbours, and even taught the people of Taiwan how to take baths! That's why all Taiwanese love Japan so much! A few 'regrettable' things happened, but that was not the fault of the imperial Japanese army -- they were away from home and did not know better. And anyway it was the pesky SKoreans in their ranks! There were no sex slaves -- only willing volunteers who made good money! They should LOVE Japan for their help!!

I stand corrected.

Which simply means that politicians should be held to that higher standard even when commenting in a private capacity.

No reason to tolerate hate groups. I wish you luck with holding Japanese politicians to a "higher standard"

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Not to diminish the pain or anger felt on either side, but I'm really tired of this endless bickering and unfinished business. I wish there was some way that the government on both sides could let go of their pride, make whatever apologies or reparations are needed, admit to past mistakes, stop the brainwashing, stop the damaging rhetoric, and move on. Japan and South Korea could accomplish so much more together in culture, business, and beyond, if they can find a way to move past all this garbage.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I've already said that I think hate speech should be outlawed.

As for denying the holocaust - I believe that the common man should have that right, even if it is ridiculous. And I'd gladly point out how stupid the person is for denying it. I don't however believe the politicians should have that right.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

However, denial of wartime atrocities is not a hate crime by any standard.

So, you think denying war crime atrocities is a kind of "freedom of speech"?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

So, you think denying war crime atrocities is a kind of "freedom of speech"?

Yes. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with the sentiment whatsoever, but I think that people should have the right to make their arguments. I just don't think the politicians should be allowed to, as it goes against the interests of the country.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

StrangerlandJun. 22, 2015 - 07:32PM JST

Yeah, we've been through this in the past, and I've already proven your links irrelevant.

Oh, how was it irrelevant?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Yeah you trot out that one inconsistency all the time. One inconsistency does not a rule break. There is more than enough evidence that the military kept sex slaves, even your own prime ministers have admitted the facts. Some right winger on the internet that comes up with one exception isn't going to change that. Neither are they going to prove hate speech with that one exception.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Christopher GlenJun. 22, 2015 - 03:45PM JST "Nationalism is a disastrous road to take. Never has it ended well. Never."

Perhaps. But Japan could do its bit by stopping all this revisionism

South Korea is guilty of far more outright revisionism than Japan is. Look how the photo shows a Korean claiming that Japan "invaded" Korea. Korea was never "invaded" it was annexed. There is not one battle between Korean and Japanese militaries leadug to that colonization, Meantie, there were over 240,000 Koreans serving in the Imperial Japanes armed forces dring WWII. They were busy INVADING other Asian countries and making use of the Comfort Stations. Pres Park Gyun Hye's own father was an Officer in the IJA, the Kwangtung Army no less in China! The moment Imperial Japan lost WWII, South Korea started re-writing it's history, highlighting only it's gripes and suffering under Japanese rule while ignoring it's benefits and advancements, and mostly it's role and particupation in WWII. South Korean revisionism has reached a point where they list themselves with China as nations that were invaded by Japan. And despite a reliance on US securioty which can not be implemented without Japan's cooperation, Korea parrots China's anti-Japan agenda, harping on WWII.South Korea as a nation is the epitomy of hypcrisy. While the US is obligated by treaty to protect both Japan andSouth Korea, it is only to South Korea that we have had to tell them to stop using history as a political tool.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

CH3CHO: "Exaggerating Japanese atrocities beyond what really happened to create hate to both Koreans and Japanese is hate speech of its own."

What Japanese atrocities? According to you guys Japan never did anything wrong? So, on that account absolutely anything short of denial is an 'exaggeration'. Now, if you want to talk about white-washing and denial, Japan is absolutely bar-none the leader in that regard -- and that's NO exaggeration.

"As far as I know, severe inconsistencies exist in every testimony of Korean former ianfu, making it an organized effort."

'As far as you know', eh? You mean, as far as 2-channel tells you. And organized effort? No effort is more organized, and pathetic, than Japan's efforts to sweep things under the rug. I mean, you have Japanese LAWMAKERS going to the US and demanding they make changes to their textbooks!!

OssanAmerica: "South Korea is guilty of far more outright revisionism than Japan is."

Utter BS! You, personally, have a number of times blamed even CURRENT human trafficking and prostitution problems on South Korea as an extension of claiming they were willing volunteers back then.

"And despite a reliance on US securioty which can not be implemented without Japan's cooperation, Korea parrots China's anti-Japan agenda, harping on WWII."

When every country in the world is pointing out how Japan should stick to current apologies and leaders like Abe are known revisionists with personal agendas and a history of white-washing -- and they ALL are, Ossan (just look at Japan's own historians in letters over the last few weeks saying Abe should reiterate the 1996 apology, let alone historians from around the world doing it, YOUR OWN pows in the US angry about what Abe is doing, women from the Netherlands, England, Taiwan, and other nations angry about the denial or sexual slavery, etc!) -- what does that say about the ONE nation, Japan, who claims everyone else in the room is wrong?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Nothing like this could have occurred under Park Chung He. He would have had that guy's head bashed in.

It is wonderful thing that this protest can occur.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So, you think denying war crime atrocities is a kind of "freedom of speech"?

Yes. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with the sentiment whatsoever, but I think that people should have the right to make their arguments. I just don't think the politicians should be allowed to, as it goes against the interests of the country.

Then what you advocate is part of the problem, not the solution

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Only if you are an extremist.

And extremists never find a good solution to a problem.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So you think Germany and Austria's solution - where pro-Nazi rallies have been banned, and it's illegal to deny the Holocaust - thus allowing the countries to reconcile with their neighbours - to be extremist? Interesting

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Oh well. I'm sure there are plenty in Germany and Austria (themselves victims of the Nazis) who would disagree with you . Hate speech is hate speech, no matter who utters it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Actually, I don't believe that the average person should be held back from exercising this freedom of speech. It's their right to bring it up.

And yet that's part of the reasons Germany has moved on from WW2. The wrongs things are banned, and the right things are permitted. Your reasoning here is the same that politicians in Japan use. They were commenting in a "private capacity", and are thus permitted to spout their rubbish

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

No reason to tolerate hate groups. I wish you luck with holding Japanese politicians to a "higher standard"

I agree with not tolerating hate crime or hate groups. However, denial of wartime atrocities is not a hate crime by any standard.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

StrangerlandJun. 22, 2015 - 07:10PM JST

Ok, let us know if that ever actually happens.

How about this?

http://archives.republicans.foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/33317.pdf

US Congressional hearing, FEBRUARY 15, 2007

(page 20) PREPARED STATEMENT OF MS. YONG SOO LEE, SURVIVING COMFORT WOMAN

A few days later, Punsun knocked on my window early in the morning, and whispered to me to follow her quietly. I tip-toed out of the house after her. I lift without telling my mother. I was wearing a dark skirt, a long cotton blouse buttoned up at the front and slippers on my feet. I followed my friend until we met the same man who had tried to approach us on the riverbank. He looked as if he was in his late thirties and he wore a sort of People’s Army uniform with a combat cap. Altogether, there were five girls with him, including myself.

(page 17) STATEMENT OF MS. YONG SOO LEE, SURVIVING COMFORT WOMAN,

I am a 14-year-old girl, and I look outside my window, and there is a girl, and there is a Japanese man, and they are saying something to each other, and they are gesturing me to come out. I did not know anything. I did not know what was going on but they gestured me to come out so I came out, and as you seen her dress, the girl and the Japanese soldier put their hand on my shoulder, and covered my mouth, and the soldier put something against my back, and like that in the middle of the night I was taken away.

It is hard to believe these testimonies were made by the same person. Exaggeration?

Based on this hearing, US Congress passed a resolution condemning Japan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives_House_Resolution_121

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

StrangerlandJun. 22, 2015 - 07:48PM JST

What matters is that they were kept as sex slaves.

First of all, my point is the harmfulness of "exaggerating Japanese atrocities" to today's Korea Japan relationship. You cannot deny the exaggeration.

Second, how do you know if a witness is telling the truth in the rest of her story, when she is not telling the truth at the begining of her story? Is she held against her will, or is she a willing prostitute? No one knows. The House Resolution demands "formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery", but how can anyone acknowledge a fact that the witness herself is not sure about?

This is not limited to Ms YONG SOO LEE. As far as I know, severe inconsistencies exist in every testimony of Korean former ianfu, making it an organized effort.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

They've opened the flood gates of nationalism, and both sides are unable to stem the tides flowing in their respective countries.

That's funny, but nothing has changed in South Korea for the last ten years. If anything, there have been less and less anti-Japanese protests as protestors keep getting older and older every year. However in Japan....

However, all of these dirty little secrets are now rarely discussed.

I'm not sure what you're talking about here. The issue of President Park Geun Hye's father was an absolutely huge election issue back in 2012. That was the one thing that held her back from getting a landslide victory. There was also a television election debate where she was lambasted over for her father's past by the opposition. Even today, her nickname is "the dictator's daughter", as sizeable number of Koreans hate her. Due to this, politically, she cannot show herself overly too friendly to Japanese right wing government, or she'll be accused of being like her father who was in the Japanese military as a rank officer. She's now a lame-duck president with popularity rating plummeting.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

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