In the press conference that followed their meeting Tuesday, neither US Secretary of State John Kerry nor Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se mentioned Japan.
And the Chosun Ilbo ain’t happy about it.
In yet another editorial on the subject, the Chosun warns the United States that it would be unreasonable and unrealistic for Washington to ask the Korean people—the “biggest victims of Japanese imperial aggression”—to join hands in security matters with a Japan that denies its history of aggression. Ye Olde Chosun says if German leaders prayed at the graves of Nazi war criminals and denied Nazi aggression, the EU would fall apart. Would Washington ask European nations to separate historical issues from security and join hands with ze Germans?
Or so the Chosun asks.
The paper says the United States is the only country that can make Japan behave, and Japan’s misbehavior means Washington isn’t taking full responsibility. Just to show this is America’s fight, too, the Chosun notes that Japan’s denial of its past is an insult to the 300,000 Americans who were killed or wounded in the Pacific War. While it’s understandable that due to financial deficits the United States needs Japan more than ever in Asia (Marmot’s Note: thanks, Chosun), it’s not in accordance with American values to overlook Japan’s historical denials.
The Chosun warns that the question of security cooperation between Korea, the United States and Japan in Northeast Asia depends on whether the United States gets Japan to behave. As long as the United States takes an ambiguous attitude, tensions between Korea and Japan will grow protracted and problems could arise in the Korea—US alliance. This is something that must never happen (Marmot’s Note: Say what you will about the Chosun, but they really do mean that). This is why the United States must understand that it is an interested party in the Japanese history issue, not a third party.
Marmot’s Note: Look, I happened to agree with the Chosun that the United States should take PM Abe aside and, if not read him the riot act, then at least caution him against pissing off potentially friendly neighbors at a time when Japan can least afford to do so. And to be fair to the Chosun, they do admit earlier in the editorial that as an ally of Japan, it would be difficult for the United States to talk openly about what it says to Tokyo and Washington could very well be quietly pressuring Japan to cut the shit.
Still, I have to wonder if the Chosun Ilbo’s repeated whinging to America—or the government whinging the Chosun hopes to inspire—will help, either. Washington has been hearing about “historical issues” between Korea and Japan for the last 60 years. Yes, you can argue this is because the United States didn’t deal conclusively with historical issues when it actually ruled Japan after World War II, but still, “Japan history fatigue” begins to set in after a while.
BTW, on a related note, this is why next time you hear a Japanese right-winger (and they seem to be everywhere on the Internet nowadays) compare Yasukuni to Arlington you should kick him in the nuts. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Interestingly enough, the Hankyoreh also took issue with the Kerry—Yun meeting, but not because of anything Japan-related. Well, not directly related to Japan, anyway. No, the Hani is concerned that Seoul and Washington might be stepping up preparations for a North Korean collapse or, even worse (from the Hani’s point of view), cooperating to make said collapse happen sooner:
The idea of creating a new bilateral or multilateral window for discussing North Korea outside of the six-party talks, which have been the traditional forum to discuss solving the nuclear issue and other North Korea concerns over the years, marks a major change – one that raises its own set of questions.
First among them is the relationship with the six-party talks. As of yet, it is not clear whether the plan is to put off the six-party talks in favor of discussions through the new framework or to hold them in tandem. It also appears inconsistent with the claim at the talks that denuclearization would be the top priority. China, which has taken the initiative in the six-party talks, may not go along with the new framework.
A second question concerns whether the aim of the policy is to actively hasten an upheaval in North Korea or passively respond to one if it happens. The official’s anonymous remarks hinted at the former possibility. If true, the approach would stand to raise inter-Korean tensions significantly.