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U.S. says Japan-S Korea tensions distract from N Korea threat

37 Comments
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON

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I felt like Japan-SK relations were on a very positive trajectory before 2012. It seems like a distant memory now, but I am sure we all remember stories of SK celebrities visiting Japan and being met by hoards of adoring middle-aged Japanese women, with the same scenario playing out when Japanese performing artists visited SK.

How quickly that goodwill eroded, and all because of moves by certain high-profile nationalists in both Japan and South Korea (although this hostility was initially sparked by then Tokyo governor (mayor) Ishihara's harebrained scheme to buy/occupy the Senkaku islets).

1 ( +8 / -7 )

then Tokyo governor (mayor) Ishihara's harebrained scheme to buy/occupy the Senkaku islets).

Senkaku islets or Ishihara have nothing to do with Japan-SK relation.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Senkaku islets or Ishihara have nothing to do with Japan-SK relation.

@tina

I strongly disagree.

Ishihara's bid for the Senkaku islets (claimed by China & Japan) did severely and obviously dampen previously more positive Japan-SK relations.

The move re-opened past wounds between Japan and SK, and emboldened ultra-nationalists in both countries to agitate for claims on the Takeshima islets (claimed by SK & Japan), rekindling animosity between Japan and SK.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Tensions between American allies Japan and South Korea are a distraction in dealing with common threats like North Korea’s nuclear weapons, a top U.S. diplomat said.

Spot on. And in case any of you do not speak "diplomatic speak" he is politely telling both of them to grow up and stop doing the old "But mommy he started it". With an untested, nut job in charge of NK, and China flexing its muscles, it is time both countries focused on the big picture, and stopped wasting time and energy on such childish nonsense that could be solved if both sides had the moral will to do so.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

What have the Senkakus to do with Korea-Japan relations?

You realize Korea is a different country from China?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Even if the savagery (Japanese History) is of the past, you need to realize that it's a present matter if the savagery is justified, denied or downplayed. There's nothing more important than squaring away the things as it should be.

Blinken will be more sensitive if his mother was a sex slave to Japanese, or his father was a subject to animals, Unit 731.

Many savageries happened by different people due to their ignorance. What distinguishes Japanese is that they don't know how to move on. Just acknowledge the past and move on. It's really getting too old.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I felt like Japan-SK relations were on a very positive trajectory before 2012. It seems like a distant memory now, but I am sure we all remember stories of SK celebrities visiting Japan and being met by hoards of adoring middle-aged Japanese women, with the same scenario playing out when Japanese performing artists visited SK.

I remember that time well. By coincidence, Hisutoria broadcast a special last night on Tsushima with a focus on close ties between the two countries, even now.

Because of political games, goodwill takes second place. Such a colossal and unnecessary waste.

Ditto with China.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Because of political games, goodwill takes second place. Such a colossal and unnecessary waste.

@Reformed

Couldn't agree more, and glad to see positive efforts still taking place such as those in Tsushima.

Running up to 2012, I think ultra-nationalist interests on both sides of the Sea of Japan were infuriated by the warming relations between the two countries. They were angry about the mobs of adoring fans of the other countries' celebrities, angry about the significant time slots being given to programming from the opposing country, and angry about increasing grass roots bilateral cultural exchange.

Anyway, the ultra-nationalists, including some with a strong nationalistic bent in top government positions (JT readers all know who they are), were very successful in putting an end to the blossoming love fest.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@John, you are right, but the nationalist far-right administration thrives on scapegoats, lies, and insults.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sensato,

Let's hope there's more common sense in future. I'd like to see a permanent joint committee tasked specifically with improving ties.

With politicians, one can only point fingers and accuse. However banning hate speech and demonstrations is entirely possible. Both sides need to show they're serious.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

That, combined with the constant harping on the abuductee issue, makes one think they don't take the North Korean nuke scenario seriously at all.

Well, I don't much either. Repeating a thing does not make it true. I still think the North Koreans managed to scrape enough TNT together for their big underground bomb show and that is about it. Even if they had a nuke, it would be too heavy and primitive to transport, save perhaps by barge.

-2 ( +1 / -2 )

Seems since 'Ms Park' has been 'elected' in SK, everything has taken a serious downturn for S.Korea. Kind of like here in the US with Obama. World War Two was fought by our Fathers, Great Grandfathers, it has nothing to do with the People in both Nations living today other than to honor the dead, remember the past, and not repeat it. Little Un is going to be marching across that DMZ some time soon, count on it. Unlike his Granddad or Pappy, Un hasn't seen the horror and hardships of war. And when the NK's come, and they will, the SK's are going to want Japan as a dear friend to lean on. Then there's Russia and China turning the World into their personal playground. Get your priorities straight!!

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The recent JPN/SK security talks were just that- Talk. Perhaps they should put aside the bickering and conduct military training ops in Sea of Japan. Of course the US is spot on saying JPN/SK tensions distracts from NK threat.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Isn't it USA that made Japan-SK relation worse by going along only with SK such as erecting many comfort women statues recently and including comfort women in their text book recently? Or Obama and Clinton criticizing only Japan?

There is nothing Japan can do any more with SK. If US keeps saying "Both countries...blah blah", Japan-US relation will deteriolate.

-4 ( +5 / -8 )

@tinawatanabe So what you are saying is that truth, fairness and honesty was employed by American to destroy relations? America should have played politics instead and gone for appeasement of both parties instead of insisting on a fair accounting?

BTW, those comfort woman statutes were not erected by the government. They were erected by local people in recognition of the sufferings of their own mothers,grandmothers, aunts and cousins.

0 ( +5 / -4 )

So what you are saying is that truth, fairness and honesty was employed by American to destroy relations?

If US has truth, fairness and honesty, Japan will never be let down by US Geo politial interest. Cuba has been banned by US for half century. Suddenly it has become the darling of US like South Korea.

US has put her interest for hosting and letting Korean activists for bashing and embarrassing Japan. On the other hands, US bases and military contractors are enjoying the expenses of Japanese tax payers.

US should be less biased and fair for Japan and South Korea relation. South Korea is booming. Japan is dooming. It does not mean Japan should be discriminated.

0 ( +5 / -4 )

Let's get real about this sk doesn't want this to go away other wise it would have. Japan doesn't want this to go away other wise it would have and what really gets me fired up is Japan and its recent efforts to protest the way American text books were written to tell the actual truth about the brutality of imperial Japan during ww2 is factually correct and the sheeple in this country don't even know their own history other than these tall tales of badass samurai and ninjas maybe if people pulled their head out of their manga books and actually picked up a real book then things would actually change here for the better but don't hold your breath!!!!!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

@Kevin Davis APR. 16, 2015 - 01:07PM JST

what really gets me fired up is Japan and its recent efforts to protest the way American text books were written to tell the actual truth about the brutality of imperial Japan during ww2 is factually correct

You'd be less mad if you can expand your mind to consider that your point will only be valid if the American textbooks, who are essentially sucking up the Korean side of the story, are accurate. If you start from the position that the "sex slave" issue is between a great exaggeration and a complete falsification made by (disproportionately) Koreans with an intent to suck money from Japan (and the fact this issue only surfaced in the 90s, after some Japanese [not Koreans!] mentioned it, should give you reason to at least briefly consider this possibility), then there is nothing to do but to attempt to correct the American textbook.

Grown-ups are supposed to have the ability to consider other viewpoints, and to realize that with different base assumptions different results will be calculated.

-6 ( +2 / -7 )

If US has truth, fairness and honesty,

@Octagon I never said the U.S. was true, fair and honest about everything! They just basically have the right of this issue. Sorry, but that is true

US should be less biased and fair for Japan and South Korea relation.

After all that America has done for Japan, in full consideration of how America has also used Japan and is using Japan still and all that America could lose if relations with Japan went sour, I find it utterly incredible that you could imagine that the U.S. government is exercising some sort of bias against Japan on this issue.

I even see some Americans bending over backwards to the point of breaking their spine just so they can side with Japan. But on this issue, even most of them shy away from taking the nationalist and government approved textbook side.

Some of you need to wake up and realize that you are fighting a battle you will never win, change tack, and find something useful to do.

-3 ( +3 / -5 )

The US certainly has more truth on its side than the commies. They can't even tell their own people the truth about the Great Leap Backward.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Ahahaha- " The Great Leap Backward " -Classic.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

They were erected by local people in recognition of the sufferings of their own mothers,grandmothers, aunts and cousins.

Since when have American women become comfort women?

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

The hatred of Japan by Koreans has very little to do with alleged Japanese atrocities in WWII. There were very many more casualties in the Korean War at the hands of China than in the entire Japanese occupation of Korea, yet that seems to be a completely forgotten, ignored of forgiven chapter in S. Korean history. The fact is that Korea was humiliated by Japan and they cannot forgive that. Then they whine and cry because Japanese tourists stopped going to Korea and Japanese don't buy their products. Go figure.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I find it utterly incredible that you could imagine that the U.S. government is exercising some sort of bias against Japan on this issue.

Obama criticized Japan over comfort women when he was in SK recently. Clinton criticized Japan over comfort women recently. US is erecting many comfort women statues in many states recently US text book started including comfort women recently US criticized Abe's shrine visit recently US criticized Japan's whale/dolphin hunt recently US state changed the name of Sea of Japan to Korean name East Sea recently. US allowed Six SK Presidents to address at joint congress, but kept denying Japan

to name a few.

US is hardly at neutral position.

-1 ( +6 / -6 )

Short and BitterApr. 16, 2015 - 01:34PM JST

I even see some Americans bending over backwards to the point of breaking their spine just so they can side with Japan. But on this issue, even most of them shy away from taking the nationalist and government approved textbook side.

You do not need to side with Japan. Just read what your fathers recorded as honest witnesses. http://www.awf.or.jp/pdf/0051_5.pdf

A "comfort girl" is nothing more than a prostitute or "professional camp follower" attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers.(page 136)

They lived in near-luxury in Burma in comparison to other places. This was especially true of their second year in Burma. They lived well because their food and material was not heavily rationed and they had plenty of money with which to purchase desired articles.(page 135)

October 1, 1944

UNITED STATES OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION Psychological Warfare Team

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Telegram_3470_to_the_Department_of_State

In addition to seizing Japanese boats on high seas and practicing hostage diplomacy, Rhee regime also seized by force and is holding illegally Takeshima Island which has always been considered as Japanese territory. This is very serious and permanent irritant in Japan-ROK relations and there can be no over-all ROK-Japan settlement until this Japanese island is returned to Japan.

April 27, 1960

Telegram 3470 to the Department of States from the U.S.embassy in Japan, by Douglas MacArthur II

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The U.S. is hardly neutral really comfort women statues that's your argument name 5 cities in the United states that have comfort women statues and as far as disputed numbers on the comfort women only Japan seems to have distorted realities about the numbers kazuaki shimizaki and I seem to have a better grasp on ww2 then you and please stop reading me quotes from the only newspaper you read it doesn't help your argument

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I feel like every other article I read on here is about S. Korea and Japan's war time past. Why. WHY after all this time do they not let these old wounds heal? What does Korea want from Japan? Havent they apologized multiple times in the past already? What else do they want? Money? What else could Japan offer to atone for what they've done? Was what Japan did horrible? YES, absolutely. But that was over 70 years ago. Almost everybody that had a hand in the atrocities and cruel acts are either dead or suffering from Alzeimers. We'd be getting knowhere if the entire western world held a grudge over Germany, hell that grudge holding is what caused WW2 in the first place!! Make peace already. It's fine to remember the past and the people that died, but stirring up emotions for what occurred will get them nowhere. Now Japan's nationalistic government is culpable in this too. Their actions are only fanning the flames. I also can't understand why there are Japanese people who simply wont accept that their ancestors committed barbaric acts. It's not that hard. You inform yourself of them. You learn from them. You reflect on them and then you accept that what happened happened and can't be changed, then try to do good to distance oneself from that past through mutually beneficial acts.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

You reflect on them and then you accept that what happened happened and can't be changed,

Could you tell that to SK/USA because it is they that are changing as I listed above.

-5 ( +2 / -6 )

This is very serious and permanent irritant in Japan-ROK relations and there can be no over-all ROK-Japan settlement until this Japanese island is returned to Japan.

I do not buy that logic because not only ROK and Japan tension is only about lost territory issue. Russia is not willing to return Northen Territory or Krill Islands to Japan. Japan has never made the fuss about Northen Territory like Takeshima.

Japanese activists have Takeshima day. I am not sure about there is Northern Territory day.

Russia took more from Japan than ROK however Japan has better relation with Russia because it is the energy supplier and super power. Another thing is Russia is making less noise about Japan past.

There are many nations have territory dispute with neighbors. However many of them live in harmony and move on. Bygone is bygone.

The tension between Japan and SK should be solved by themselves. The more US lectures Japan, the more Japanese people will resent over US double standard.

US abandoned Taiwan back in 1970s and made the diplomatic relation with Commies China. Because of US, China has become the member of UN and security council. US may abandon Japan and SK like Taiwan for hugging and kissing NK in the future.

It is understandable that Japan has insecurity about US commitment and trustworthiness. Nothing is predictable.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@tina. There are lots S. Koreans who emigrated to the US. After some years, these koreans secured american citizenship. They studied, worked, raised families, invested, created jobs, and opened their own banks. . . . (Get the picture?)

The elite in cooperation with other (asian americans) lobbyist are the reason for the statues. Not your average white middle-class suburbanite.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wc626 As I said above, it's not only statues that US is doing against Japan, Obama, Clinton, Biden and Kennedy all criticizing Japan. And many seemingly Americans here in JT are siding with SK too (with some exceptions) and almost all US papers.

So, Japan does not want US interference in Japan-SK relation. The Japanese have been hurt too much on this comfort women issue as Abe has said.

-5 ( +1 / -5 )

Yeah, you wrote some good points above. It didn't even thumbs down ya- In fact the opposite.

I just wanted to articulate that isn't our city Mayors, Governors nor local tax $, etc. suggesting to errect statues.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The U.S. is hardly neutral really comfort women statues that's your argument name 5 cities in the United states that have comfort women statues and as far as disputed numbers on the comfort women only Japan seems to have distorted realities about the numbers kazuaki shimizaki and I seem to have a better grasp on ww2 then you and please stop reading me quotes from the only newspaper you read it doesn't help your argument

The only thing helping your argument is that nobody can make any sense of your comment and therefore can't argue against it. Please learn what a period is, and then move on to basic grammar.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@scipantheist

The US certainly has more truth on its side than the commies. They can't even tell their own people the truth about the Great Leap Backward.

Here's a good one, "Iraq has WMDs".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Blinken seems to think that the Japanese and Koreans are so simpleton that they cannot do things or contemplate actions simultaneously. That is pretty arrogant. The Japanese and Koreans should be free to pursue whatever policies they want with one another on issues such as history. That does not mean that they cannot cooperate on issues like the North Korean threat, which they have been doing and are doing.

One reason America wants Japan and Korea and China for that matter to get off the history issues is that America has its own responsibilities for the current state of play in Asia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

liarsnfoolsApr. 17, 2015 - 06:12AM JST

Blinken seems to think that the Japanese and Koreans are so simpleton that they cannot do things or contemplate actions simultaneously.

That does not hold for Japan, but is true with regard to Korea because Korean President Pak repeatedly declared that she would not talk with Japanese prime minister unless comfort women issues are "solved", though no one knows what she means by "solved." She can do only one thing with Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Blinken seems to think that the Japanese and Koreans are so simpleton that they cannot do things or contemplate actions simultaneously. That is pretty arrogant. The Japanese and Koreans should be free to pursue whatever policies they want with one another on issues such as history. That does not mean that they cannot cooperate on issues like the North Korean threat, which they have been doing and are doing.

I guess you missed the part where it read "senior Japanese and South Korean defense and foreign ministry officials held a rare joint meeting". If they were cooperating so nicely, why would such a meeting be "rare"? Lets not forget that Koreans have even tried to prevent Japan's PM from speaking to the U.S. government, which is none of their business.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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