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Park urges Japan to reflect on past aggression

South's chief urges recognition of brutal colonial rule

Kyodo

South Korean President Park Geun Hye on Friday urged Japan to squarely face up to past historical issues, alluding to its brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

“We can open up a future of common prosperity with Japan only when Japan honestly reflects on its past,” Park said in a speech marking the 94th anniversary of an independence movement against Japan’s 1910-1945 rule of the peninsula.

“The dynamic of (Japan) being the aggressor and (Korea) being the victim will never change, even after the passage of a thousand years,” Park, who was sworn into office Monday as the country’s first female president, told a ceremony in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.

Park stressed that “Japan should have a correct view of history and assume a responsible attitude to open up the era of Northeast Asia in the 21st century as a partner (of South Korea).”

Anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea has risen after Seoul lodged a formal protest with Tokyo last week for sending a central government official for the first time to attend Takeshima Day in Shimane Prefecture. Earlier in the week, a group of small business owners in South Korea said it would begin a boycott of Japanese goods Friday to protest the dispatch of the government official.

The annual event is aimed at buttressing Japan’s claim that the Takeshima Islands, which are administered and known as Dokdo by the South, are inherent Japanese territory and part of Shimane Prefecture. The pair of barren islets lie roughly halfway between the two countries.

At the ceremony in Cheonan, Park, a member of South Korea’s ruling conservative party, also said political leaders of both countries should “have the courage and determination” to resolve issues related to their shared history, pointing out that “future generations of both countries should not be saddled with the heavy burden of (their) history.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday that the government is striving to build “future-oriented, multilayered relations” with Seoul, despite the “difficult problems” currently fueling bilateral tensions.

Kishida also expressed hope that the launch of new administrations in both Japan and South Korea will steer the two countries toward friendlier bilateral ties. The conservative Liberal Democratic Party-led government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late December.

Kishida also said Tokyo can’t consider a separate protest lodged Thursday by Seoul over his reference to the Takeshima dispute in a policy address to the Diet the same day. In his speech, Kishida said that although the ownership dispute is “not one that can be resolved overnight,” Japan will continue “to clearly convey to South Korea that it will not accept what it cannot accept.”

His remarks immediately ruffled feathers in the South, which interpreted them as Japan laying what Seoul views as a baseless sovereignty claim to the Takeshima islets, which were effectively controlled by Japan until 1945.

Also Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Tokyo has always regarded Seoul as an “extremely important partner” in maintaining peace and security in East Asia, where the threat from North Korea’s nuclear arms and ballistic missiles is rapidly increasing. Pyongyang successfully launched a satellite aboard a rocket in December, and carried out its third nuclear test last month.

Noting “there have been difficult issues between the two countries,” Suga said Japan wants to reinforce bilateral ties.

  • Christopher-trier

    What is the point of Japan claiming these islets? South Korea has effectively controlled them since 1954 — 59 years. By dropping the point, at least in so far as not bringing it up so stridently, Japan would cede nothing and gain a lot of good will in South Korea. Good relations with South Korea are imperative for Japan and they can easily be had.

    • DA

      My point exactly, but what it really comes down to is money from the good fishing-waters and natural resources. The best way for Japan to handle the issue would be to concede the island (keeping it under Korean control, so not much of a concession anyway, as you’re saying) but reach some kind of agreement over how both countries can share the (potential) income of the waters surrounding it.

  • 秋中 赳

    She also said that “the historical positions of offenders and victims do not change even after 1,000 years have passed.”

    So by her “logic” Germany and Austria and the rest of Europe can hold today’s France responsible for the Napoleonic Wars. The German city of Magdeburg could demand compensation from Spain for the Sacking of Magdeburg in the Thirty Year War.

    I’m not surprised she’s incompetent. I actually expected it. She’s a career politician. When they talk about history they’re quick to prove that their own political agenda always triumphs over historic fact and common sense.

    In this case holding today’s Japan, which is significantly more free and democratic than South Korea, responsible for what happened more than 70 years ago, is laughable at best. The men who decided to invade Korea are dust. The men who ordered the mass murder of thousands of Chinese are dead. Those who followed these orders are largely also dead, there are only few veterans still alive. So who’s responsible? Those born years after the war ended? How does that make sense?

    It doesn’t. It’s the typical highly emotional play to pseudo-justice as expected from today’s political aristocracy.

  • Hongkie jj

    Park stressed that “Japan should have a correct view of history and assume a responsible attitude to open up the era of Northeast Asia in the 21st century as a partner (of South Korea).” and also to all other countries victimized by your war and occupation.

    That is exactly why we have been telling Japan all along. You just dont get it. Its so black and white.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MsBFu Barbara Fuentes

    “We can open up a future of common prosperity with Japan only when
    Japan honestly reflects on its past,” Park said in a speech marking the
    94th anniversary of an independence movement against Japan’s 1910-1945 rule of the peninsula.

    Translation: rewrite your history books to reflect our biases, and tell the world that our opinion of you is the only right one. Only then will we trade reasonably with you.

    “The dynamic of (Japan) being the aggressor and (Korea) being the
    victim will never change, even after the passage of a thousand years,”

    Translation: No matter how many apologies you make or reparations you pay, we will never forgive you for what you did in the past. But keep apologizing anyway, because you’re the villain and we’re the damsel.

    Little wonder conservatives in Japan are reconsidering Article 9.

    As for Liancourt Rocks, if Japan cedes those then they have any even harder fight for Diaoyu/Senkaku and the islands claimed by Russia. If that slope gets really slippery they could find Okinawa and other islands in play, and they can’t afford that.

    Yes, what they did was atrocious–but they also got nuked. Twice. No one can change the past. They’ve largely let go of the grudges against the U.S. and Russia–can’t Korea and China let go of theirs?

  • jaizzz

    The arrogant Japanese government to admit its brutal aggression and atrocities throughout the war era is the SOURCE of the problem.

    Unless they are gentle enough to not reluctant to tell the truth (the correct view) about their past (history) specifically about their atrocities (include the “comfort women”), Japanese will never get respect from the victims (Chinese, Korean, Indonesian/Dutch Indies, etc)

  • jaizzz

    The arrogant japanese government to admit its brutal aggression and atrocities throughout the war era is the SOURCE of the problem.

    Unless they are gentle enough to not reluctant to tell the truth (the correct view) about their past (history) specifically about their atrocities (include the “comfort women”), japanese will never get respect from the victims (Chinese, Korean, Indonesian/Dutch Indies, etc)