National

Japan's Shukan Post apologizes after being blasted for discrimination toward South Koreans

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

A weekly magazine’s editorial department has apologized for what has been widely slammed as discriminatory coverage of South Koreans, with the magazine having branded them as pathologically quick-tempered and insisted that Tokyo cut ties with Seoul because the neighbor is “troublesome.”

In the latest edition, published Monday, Shukan Post ran two sensational articles related to recently strained Japan-South Korean relations. One was headlined “Goodbye to the troublesome neighbor. We don’t need South Korea,” and the other “Unable to contain anger: ‘South Korean illness.'”

The editorial department of Shukan Post, which is released by leading publisher Shogakukan Inc., issued a statement Monday night apologizing for the article that described South Koreans as prone to anger. The piece, it admitted, was “misleading” and “inconsiderate.”

The publication also said that the article touting the idea of dankan (rejection of South Korea) received “lots of opinions and criticism.” It explained the article sought to assess the pros and cons of Tokyo staying friends with Seoul at a time when “Japan-South Korea relations grow tumultuous.”

“We apologize and humbly accept” the feedback, the statement said.

The furor over the series has left prominent writers in Japan taking to social media to declare that they will boycott the publisher and the magazine. In a Facebook post uploaded Monday, novelist Ushio Fukazawa accused the series of “fanning discrimination” and said she will suspend her essay contributions to Shukan Post. Philosopher Tatsuru Uchida said on Twitter he will no longer write for Shogakukan.

“I don’t mind cutting ties with a publisher that can’t keep itself afloat without ingratiating itself with the public,” he said.

Yu Miri, an award-winning author of Korean descent, expressed resentment at the second article, which, based on a 2015 academic report published in South Korea, characterized Koreans as prone to an “outburst of anger to an extent incomprehensible to Japanese.” The article concluded it is possible South Koreans are venting to Japanese because their anger at their own stressful society has found no other outlet.

“It is nothing but hate speech that stokes racial discrimination and hatred,” Yu said.

Recent months have seen relations between Japan and South Korea plunge to what many say is the lowest point in decades.

Last month, Seoul announced that it would scrap a key intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which enabled the two U.S. allies to share sensitive information on missile threats from North Korea, among other things. South Korea’s Supreme Court last year ordered Japanese firms to pay compensation for wartime forced labor.

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