People march holding banners denouncing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his economic sanctions during an anti-Japan protest in Seoul on Thursday. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
politics

Seoul businesspeople taking critical look at anti-Japan rallies

48 Comments
By Tomoyuki Tachikawa

Anti-Japan protests are intensifying in Seoul with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government taking a tough stance toward South Korea, but many businesspeople in the capital are taking a critical look at the move.

Such citizens say they are still using Japan-made products while a boycott campaign of them is widespread in South Korea. They lambaste the political leaders of the two nations for hurting private-sector exchanges between the neighbors.

Emphasizing that rising "nationalistic" sentiment would not benefit either country, South Korean people who have dealings with Japanese individuals and firms have expressed hope that Tokyo and Seoul will seek a good way to improve bilateral ties.

"I hate Abe. Abe should think about our feelings," Choe Jong Seong, a 21-year-old male university student said. "Everything stems from the fact that Japan colonized Korea. As prime minister, Abe should first apologize to us before attacking us."

Choe said his grandfather had been born in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and after World War II, he was forced to live separately from his father.

"Abe is so heartless that he can't imagine the pains of people whose motherland has been divided. Japan was defeated in World War II, but it has developed into a major economic power as one country," he added.

South Korea designates Aug. 15 as Liberation Day, a national holiday that celebrates the end of Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule. On Thursday, many citizens rallied against Abe in Seoul.

Last year, South Korea's top court ruled that Japanese companies must compensate people claiming to be victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule of Korea.

Abe's government has insisted that the decisions are against a 1965 bilateral agreement that settled the compensation issue "finally and completely," criticizing the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae In for breaking an international treaty.

Tokyo has strengthened export controls on South Korea since last month, citing security concerns. Seoul has argued that the measures are aimed at taking reprisals against the court rulings, triggering a tit-for-tat trade dispute between the two nations.

"It is natural that countries are at odds over several matters," Choe said. "Certainly, Moon does not abide by a promise with Japan, but Abe has gone too far."

A women in her 40s who runs a Japanese restaurant in Seoul said, "Some people have become self-conscious about having meals here. They really like drinking Japanese-brand beer, but they say half-jokingly that they are now doing so behind the curtain."

"I think the current Japan-South Korea tensions have been caused by friction between the two political leaders. I myself have used Japanese goods ever since childhood. I'm pro-Japan," she said.

The woman, however, added many young people in South Korea are engaged in the anti-Japan campaign as they are "easily susceptible to the internet" through social networking services including Facebook.

"Young people seem to feel they could be isolated if they don't do what others do. It's like a fashion trend. I'm scared that a kind of nationalistic sentiment is growing like this," she said.

"But I would like Japanese people to know that South Korean young people protest not against Japan but against Abe," the woman added, with participants of a rally in the center of the city holding banners saying "No Abe."

At shops and restaurants in Seoul, "most South Korean people are always kind enough to serve us," said Takeshi Kato, a 35-year-old Japanese engineer living in the capital, although he added, "Sometimes, we meet extremists."

Kim Moon Young, a 40-year-old South Korean trading firm employee, said, "Those who do business know almost all industries in our country can't survive without transactions with Japan. Such people won't join the anti-Japan campaign."

"Moon has used anti-Japan and nationalistic sentiments to push up his support rate. He ignited the fire but has asked South Korean citizens and companies to put it out," Kim said.

A Japanese guide at a tourist spot in Seoul, meanwhile, blamed Abe for undermining relations between the two neighbors, saying, "I don't know how he views South Korea, but he has no right to prevent us from communicating with South Koreans."

"He has kept a rude attitude toward South Korea," said Keiko Kanehira, the 31-year-old woman, pointing out that Abe skipped one-on-one talks with Moon on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in June in Osaka, hosted by Japan.

"I can't believe the chairman of the G20 summit didn't meet bilaterally with the leader of the neighboring country. Ahead of the national election in July, Mr Abe may have tried to gain supporters by fueling nationalism," she said.

Young-Key Kim-Renaud, a professor emeritus at the George Washington University in Washington, warned that nationalistic sentiment has been increasingly on display across the globe recently.

"Nationalism is often used for political purposes, as a cheap way to force unity inside a country," the specialist of Korean affairs said. "Unfortunately, this is a brazen tactic used by leaders of the world today to expand their support base by bringing out people at the fringe of the general public."

© KYODO

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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*Choe said his grandfather had been born in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and after World War II, he was forced to live separately from his father.*

*

That’s after the Korean War wasn’t it?

18 ( +24 / -6 )

"I hate Abe. Abe should think about our feelings," Choe Jong Seong, a 21-year-old male university student said.

Key word: “feelings”. This is all emotion driven.

19 ( +27 / -8 )

A hundred years from now, Koreans will still be picking at their scabs. The concept of "move on" doesn't exist.

24 ( +33 / -9 )

Key word: “feelings”. This is all emotion driven.

Absolutely. Like virtually most of what happens in our society is driven by someone's emotion. Look at how Trump, many CEOs and middle managers are making most of their daily decisions. Data / facts help but it's always emotion that sways the decision one way over the other.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

At last, an article that deals with the real world instead of power obsessed megalomaniacal narcissists

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Well the business owners should take an interest considering they bear the brunt directly by agitators actions. This happened long before I was born or any protesters to talk about colonization. Let it go. Japan has and continues to prove itself yet again as a pacifist country.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Maybe (just maybe) some common sense will creep back into this issue. There is a huge benefit for Japan and Korea to have a good relationship and many negatives if they do not.

I flew back from Europe through Seoul and had a baggage issue. I got talking to the Korean gentleman at the baggage counter about this issue and he is getting tired of it - I said the average person in Japan is also. I believe the average person would probably want their leaders to move past this. My last comment was that as an American with a business in Japan and many clients (and friends) in Korea I just think this is sad.

The true gem in this article is the last paragraph;

"Nationalism is often used for political purposes, as a cheap way to force unity inside a country," the specialist of Korean affairs said. "Unfortunately, this is a brazen tactic used by leaders of the world today to expand their support base by bringing out people at the fringe of the general public."

So very well said and this does not only apply to the situation with Korea and Japan.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Choe Jong Seong, a 21-year-old male university student : "Abe is so heartless that he can't imagine the pains of people whose motherland has been divided. Japan was defeated in World War II, but it has developed into a major economic power as one country," he added.

I think Choe needs to study a little harder at school and learn that Japan had nothing to do with the splitting up of the Korean peninsula after WWII. He can thank the UN/US/USSR for that.

27 ( +29 / -2 )

Meanwhile, ordinary Japanese people are going about their lives in a mature and cultured manner.

14 ( +21 / -7 )

From the point of view of an outsider, I just want both sides to get along.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The two countries should have another war but Japan should let Korea win. Used to work with my sister.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Most (all?) anti-Japan people in the article blame Abe.

Since the present flare-up is easily traced back to the South-Korean court ruling, how is it that we get from there to blaming Abe?

It seems like there’s some reeeaally selective thinking going on in S.K. these days.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

"I hate Abe. Abe should think about our feelings," Choe Jong Seong, a 21-year-old male university student said. "Everything stems from the fact that Japan colonized Korea. As prime minister, Abe should first apologize to us before attacking us."

Wow awesome you hate Abe who wasn't born at that time because someone got misstretened by someone else 80 years ago ? that's really awesome logic.

Maybe she should hate herselfe because most of not all Japanese have at least some % korean blood as LOTS of Koreans migrated to Japan over 1000 years ago ... if they insist of history and all then why not going back 1000+ years so it is her own ancestors fault all this happened -.-V

Choe said his grandfather had been born in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and after World War II, he was forced to live separately from his father.

So umm ... yeah ... so how did Japan actually separate Korea ? wasn't it Russia and America who did id

16 ( +19 / -3 )

So umm ... yeah ... so how did Japan actually separate Korea ? wasn't it Russia and America who did id

Just a coincidence is it? - after Japan's occupation China broke into two, Korea broke into two and Vietnam broke into two. Malaysia suffered a long insurgency. No connection at all?

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

Dishonest articles like this are dangerous and harm Japan’s national interest.

The truth is that 75% of Koreans are participating in the boycott right now, and Japan’s export control angered business leaders to such that Samsung chief Lee Jae Yong ordered the complete removal of all Japan sourced material from Samsung’s chip production within a year.

Abe san and Japan’s rightwing leadership read dishonest articles like this, and make the wrong judgement based on the assumption that Korean people would blame Moon and force Moon to surrender if they caused economic pain on Korea. Instead, Japan’s export control has been a gift from heaven for Moon and the ruling party; their poll number is twice that of the pro-Japan conservatives and is now assured of the election victory.

-16 ( +6 / -22 )

Sk’ s supreme court’s chief justice name is also abe didnt know that till now

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Well...it is not surprise to hear that. The JT itself some weeks ago showed an article where ordinary SK citizens didn't agree to Mon administration.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This SK college student's lack of historical understanding really shows what biased revisionism taught in the SK school system can do.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

I think Choe needs to study a little harder at school and learn that Japan had nothing to do with the splitting up of the Korean peninsula after WWII. He can thank the UN/US/USSR for that.

Unless he attend other country school, he will not be able to learn what you taught since in SK the anti-Japanese education is the only thing that kids learn.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

If it was up to Japan, Korea would still be one country rich and prosperous with Japan in its pocket as a protector.

Hardly. If it were up to the Japan that invaded Korea, Korea wouldn't be a country at all, but a colony of the Empire, systematically exploited for the good of Japan first, last, and only. Don't delude yourself otherwise.

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

"I hate Abe. Abe should think about our feelings," Choe Jong Seong, a 21-year-old male university student said. "Everything stems from the fact that Japan colonized Korea. As prime minister, Abe should first apologize to us before attacking us."

And then people here have the audacity to accuse all Japanese of teaching a whitewashed version of its history. This individual is absolutely clueless. Since when was Abe 'attacking' South Koreans, and what exactly does he need to apologize for? Removing South Korea from the white list was hardly an unjust action.

It's telling that the Japanese individual mentioned in this article living in Seoul still comes across extremists who treated him badly. I can only assume they refused to serve him or cursed him out (imagine the outrage here if even ONE Japanese person attacked or harrassed a Korean person in Japan).

Still, articles like these that show not all South Koreans subscribe to the anti-Japan hate comes as a supreme disappointment to the anti-Japan crowd here, some of whom are already spinning things as we speak.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

eventually they will realize that only Koreans can read their signs...

5 ( +8 / -3 )

This SK college student's lack of historical understanding really shows what biased revisionism taught in the SK school system can do.

You could change 'SK' to 'Japan' and you would also be correct

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

This SK college student's lack of historical understanding really shows what biased revisionism taught in the SK school system can do.

If you think that Japanese students lack academic prowess, Korean college students are way way worse in academic discources and critical thinking, the only thing matters is what clan you belong to.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

This SK college student's lack of historical understanding really shows what biased revisionism taught in the SK school system can do.

Yes, and I have seen Japans revision of history too.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

@Ex_Res

Yes, and I have seen Japans revision of history too.

Are you an editor for Japanese text books?

Have you personally read Japanese history text books?

Can you give the thread the list of MEXT approved whitewashed textbooks?

thank you

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Speed: “I think Choe needs to study a little harder at school and learn that Japan had nothing to do with the splitting up of the Korean peninsula after WWII. He can thank the UN/US/USSR for that.”

No responsibility, none at all? With the greatest respect, I beg to differ. Japanese colonization of the Peninsula meant the emasculation of anything resembling a credible deterrent in the form of an independent unified country. Japan’s domination of Korea provided the Russians with the opportunity to overrun the retreating Japanese, then sponsor an alternative Pyongyang regime. History didn’t start in 1945!

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

@peppy kids

Do you have any sources of these percentages?

Or are you just having fun with numbers?

Sure. 

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/05/business/economy-business/south-koreans-shun-japanese-products-tours-boycott-gathers-momentum/

South Koreans shun Japanese products and tours as boycott gathers momentum

But others say the campaign exposes the bitter resentment many Koreans still harbor against their former colonial master. A recent survey suggested 80 percent of South Koreans are reluctant to buy Japanese products.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2019/08/693_274010.html

Imports of Japan-made writing supplies (25.9 percent), toys (27.5 percent), fishing gear (17.6 percent), motorcycles (76.3 percent) and cosmetic devices (65.9 percent) also saw sharp decreases.

Japanese beers suffered the most dramatic fall, as the KCS data showed that beer imports decreased by 98.8 percent during the first 10 days of August compared to the same period in 2018.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/07/120_272131.html

67% of Koreans willing to boycott Japanese goods over Tokyo's export control: survey

Nearly 67 percent of Koreans say they are willing to boycott Japanese products after Tokyo's recent decision to restrict the export of some key industrial materials to Korea.

The 67% boycott figure is from early July when Abe san imposed the first export control.

The 80% boycott figure is from this month, after Abe san imposed the second export control.

So the boycott participation willingness keeps growing each passing day.

yet you dont realize that SK is lowed power position JP in negotiating.

You got it backward, the country running a trade surplus never start a trade war against the other country, but Abe san did.

The US is in a stronger position against China because it runs a trade deficit against China.

Korea is in a stronger position against Japan because it runs a trade deficit against Japan.

And you don't realize the Japanese could not care less if they do business

https://www.forbes.com/sites/donaldkirk/2019/08/14/japans-richest-man-sees-uniqlo-revenue-hit-by-south-koreas-boycott/

Japan's Richest Man Sees Uniqlo Revenue Hit By South Korea's Boycott

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

"I hate Abe. Abe should think about our feelings," Choe Jong Seong, a 21-year-old male university student said. "Everything stems from the fact that Japan colonized Korea. As prime minister, Abe should first apologize to us before attacking us."

This young student has been brainwashed to hate Japan, just like most Koreans. Unbelievable. Do Canadians hate the British for colonizing them? Do Brazilians hate the Portugese? Do Taiwanese hold a grudge against Japan. No. They accepted history, and the benefits they were given by colonization.

How can this student hold any hatred for PM Abe. He has never met Him.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

@ ClippetyClop

Naturally yes brand endorsement and revenue area part of the same.

The opportunity cost of having a market share in SK market is immense.. until the cost exceed the benefit.

But if majority of stakes are involve in the local populace which is part of the strategy (Koreans sell to Koreans)

then by a logic aside, any detriment to business affects the stake holders aka the Korean Populace, and by logic the Korean populace loses.

As porn according Cambridge:

pictures, books, television programmes , newspaper articles, etc. that are intended to be exciting for people interested in a particular subject or particular product:

This is pretty good defition to SK mentality involving the Japanese 90 years ago

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

This SK college student's lack of historical understanding really shows what biased revisionism taught in the SK school system can do.

You could change 'SK' to 'Japan' and you would also be correct

Here we go yet again.

I suppose it wasn't enough that the anti-Japan crowd could not come up with a single shred of evidence on another discussion thread that the Japanese educational system in general is teaching a 'revised' version of its history. Once the actual truth was shown by myself, these people went back into hiding and could do nothing but down vote me. And yet, these people continue to spout off on other discussion threads about something they have no clue about. Truly shameless.

Wanting to wish that all Japanese are ignorant xenophobes who learn a white washed version of history, doesn't make it so no matter how loud you scream about it.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Ex_Res

Yes, and I have seen Japans revision of history too.

Are you an editor for Japanese text books?

Have you personally read Japanese history text books?

Can you give the thread the list of MEXT approved whitewashed textbooks?

thank you

The textbooks I have are official and for Junior High School students. I have read them (although I have never been an editor of Japanese history textbooks).

Should you or anyone require copies of these, I would think that Maruzen bookstore in Nihonbashi would have copies, but I am not sure.

Thank you.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@Ex_Res

There you go everybody

an official academic analysis of Japanese Textebooks from

( hold on, paste and copy, (Maruzen bookstore).

What academic journal did you publish again?

How did you come to the whitewashing conclusion again?

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Just refused a trip to Korea, I would not be safe.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Just a coincidence is it? - after Japan's occupation China broke into two, Korea broke into two and Vietnam broke into two. Malaysia suffered a long insurgency. No connection at all?

You mean those countries should've been continued to be occupied by Japan? They were not capable of taking care of themselves? What are you trying to say with your twisted examples?

What the article shows is basically what I alway suspected, also in my comments: Children are being used to carry on a certain basic hatred against Japan during the education life to serve public oppinion influence when neccessary for the current leaders. Now when those people actually go into business and start working, they fastly learn how important and nice Japan is. Therefore I repeat myself when saying I feel pity for the young SK generation to go through this instead of enjoying life to the future.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

There you go everybody

an official academic analysis of Japanese Textebooks from

( hold on, paste and copy, (Maruzen bookstore).

What academic journal did you publish again?

How did you come to the whitewashing conclusion again?

@

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Just accepted a trip to Korea. I know I will be safe.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

There you go everybody

*an official academic analysis of Japanese Textebooks from*

( hold on, paste and copy, (Maruzen bookstore).

What academic journal did you publish again?

How did you come to the whitewashing conclusion again?

@peppy kids

To clarify, the origional copies would have been approved by Japans Ministry of Education.

I never said that I have published an academic journal, regarding Japanese history.

Read the books and draw your own conclusion.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

peppy kids, please humble yourself. Ignorance is ignorance, as Japanese is Japanese.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

"But I would like Japanese people to know that South Korean young people protest not against Japan but against Abe," the woman added, with participants of a rally in the center of the city holding banners saying "No Abe."

People like the above are delusional if they truly believe they are going to get some sympathies from Japanese people by stating the above.

May have worked a decade or more ago but it's gotten to a point where Japanese people think Abe is NOT DOING ENOUGH against Korea.

Radar lock on JMSDF, unilateral cancellation of 2015 CW agreement, and this latest asinine high court decision on Former Civilian workers from the Korean peninsula finally put a much needed exposure of the mindset of the Korean government and its peoples to the Japanese public.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Just pathetic at how the Japanese posters here blame the US and Russia for Korea’s division. If Japan hadn’t colonized and destroyed a sitting government (royal family) in the first place, Korea wouldn’t have been divided full stop. Stop blaming others for your own mistakes. It really is pathetic.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

> peppy kids, obviously, Japan is not free Islands.

You do not have the educaion to make that statement

Thank you for playing please try again

As simple as that

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This article highlights how tone deaf Japan is to the reality of how things are perceived outside of Japan. The Korean right wing nuts described in this article are akin to the right wing nuts who ride in black vans in Japan. They are on the fringe. The need for Japan to admit, apologize, and resolve it's WWII issues is literally the one thing that is shared by North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, et al. It's 2019, let's call a spade a spade. Japan committed atrocities during its WW2 and has trouble admitting let alone recompense and reconcile with neighboring nations. The more that people outside of Asia learns about the festering issue the more they will are learning about Japan's history and contemporary problem with its history. The fact that these things have spilled over into trade and policy at Abe's initiative really hurts Japan's business credibility overseas.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

@Mizuame

Just a coincidence is it? - after Japan's occupation China broke into two, Korea broke into two and Vietnam broke into two. Malaysia suffered a long insurgency. No connection at all?

*

Google “Cold War”, it wasn’t Japan who started it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Abe is so heartless that he can't imagine the pains of people whose motherland has been divided. Japan was defeated in World War II, but it has developed into a major economic power as one country," he added.

The people of Korea should be together. It would be sad if the Soviets and the Allies divided Japan in half.

@jj1067

Choe said his grandfather had been born in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and after World War II, he was forced to live separately from his father.

That’s after the Korean War wasn’t it?

Korea was divided after War World II. It wasn’t because of the Korean War that it split into two though there was a possibility of a united Korea via the UN Troops led by MacArthur.

They just sat Dian and drew it at the 38th parallel without consulting the Koreans at all.

"Nationalism is often used for political purposes, as a cheap way to force unity inside a country," the specialist of Korean affairs said. "Unfortunately, this is a brazen tactic used by leaders of the world today to expand their support base by bringing out people at the fringe of the general public.

Abe should do away with his North Korean Abductee song and dance. Moon needs to choose either it’s neighbors to the east or his neighbors to the west and stick with it. Indecisiveness takes you nowhere.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

quercetumToday  06:52 am JST

Korea was divided after War World II. It wasn’t because of the Korean War that it split into two though there was a possibility of a united Korea via the UN Troops led by MacArthur.

This! The UN forces would have over run North Korea had it not been for China that sent 250,000 troops into the Korean Peninsula and pushed them down south again.

Yet this idiot SK college student blames Japan for the division of Korea.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

This is helping no one. Especially not SK. If both countries worked together and had a good and strong relationship, they'd, arguably, be the world's most powerful duo. Enough with the clinging to the past, enough with the emotional overreacting and the pseudo drama. Hold talks, make compromises, work together, form a good, strong relationship.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Here is an article we all need to see and read.

https://news.nifty.com/article/world/worldall/12180-374846/

The Book's title is 反日種族主義(Anti-Japanese tribalism: the root of the Korean crisis) by 李栄薫 (Lee Young-hoon) a professor of Economics at Seoul National University and the president of the Naksungdae Institute of Economic Research.

He challenged the Korean's common beliefs--"Japanese colonial rule and development has been considered an absolute evil"--by arguing that comfort women were prostitutes and that the number of the women and forced laborer is exaggerated in Korea's textbooks.After raising a doubt by saying, "(If there's any) Tell me which scholar is actually claiming that Governor-General of Korea forcibly transported comfort women", he was severely criticised in South Korea and forced to get down on his hands and knees in front of comfort women to apologise them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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