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Chosun Ilbo complains about US silence on Japan. Again.

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.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • wangkon936

    Rob,

    That Atlantic article you linked on Yūshūka was written by James Fallows, who like Chalmers Johnson, is a longtime Japan observer. He has often been positive on Japan and Japanese culture. The fact that even he is convinced that the Japanese PM visiting Yasukuni is a bad idea just adds further credence to the fact that it is… a bad idea.

    As for me, I oppose Yasukuni for separation of church and state reasons. Yasukuni is a Shinto sponsored institution and those that wrote Japan’s pacifist constitution probably did so to expressly keep Shintoism out of state affairs. It must be remembered that Shintoism was one of the great enablers of the Japanese militarism that started WWII and the 1937 Japanese war of aggression in China.

  • yangachibastardo

    I may be overly simplistic on this, or worse adopting a Eurocentric currency war perspective, but i firmly believe that in order to explain the heightened tension between Korea and Japan you don’t need to go much further than retrieving from Bloomberg a daily/weekly JPY KRW chart

  • seouldout

    Isn’t there separation of church and state in the States? Perhaps the Japs ought to follow the Yanks’ example.

  • provIdence

    Many foreigners appear to be deliberately or otherwise misunderstanding Yasukuni as a war shrine while it is a shrine for war dead. Yasukuni was founded on old religious belief of Japan, i.e., Goryo belief:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goryō

    It is good for any one for the world peace to visit Yasukuni and pray for reposing all souls of war dead including those of war criminals who would be cursing the world the most.

    There certainly are some war shrines, so to speak, in Japan. One of them is Hachiman which shrines, among others, Empress Jingu, a mythological figure from 3rd to 4th century.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachiman

    In mythology, she led some expeditions to the peninsula. To the consternation of historians, however, a stele, of Gwanggaeto the Great, describing stories similar to those of hers was found in Manchuria. I hear some replicas of the stele are present in S. Korea.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwanggaeto_Stele

  • SeoulGoodman

    ” 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.”

    So, you’re saying that you’ll be fine when Justin Trudeau, once he’s elected Prime Minister of Canada, takes the US President aside and does the same thing?

  • RElgin

    There is separation in the states though there are stealthy attempts to get around such. I have read and argued with enough Chinese who attempt to claim that there is not a separation between church and state in the U.S. as a means of justifying the persecution of home churches in the PRC.

    There are more than a few apologists that want to whitewash their faults by pointing at the alleged faults of others.

  • RElgin

    Please read the second from the bottom link before you start going on about how such-and-such is misunderstood.
    Apparently, having such a museum as Yūshūka on the same grounds as the shrine is a much worse situation than I had thought. That is truly despicable and indefensible.

  • redwhitedude

    I don’t get why anybody would link the JPY KRW exchange to this tension. Perhaps the fear of Abenomics hurting Korean export competitiveness but that fear has been proven mostly unfounded.

  • yangachibastardo

    Yes it’s the Abenomics thing, i think the jury is still out on its effectiveness: give it some time, currency wars do take some time to extract their toll on the economies involved. IMHO though the massive yen devaluation did hegihten tensions. In Asia FX issues are never taken lightly

  • wangkon936

    IMHO, the intent of the Framers with the 1st Amendment was not so much banning religions belief and thought in general within government, but to make sure that government does not join hands with an “established” religion, i.e. the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., etc.

    The Framers had the immediate historical lessons of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, which often became integral state sponsored institutions that amplified and/or enhanced the policies of a king/ruler over the population he ruled over. Furthermore, the king allying himself officially with an established church gave him a “mandate” (called in Europe the “divine right of kings”). The Framers didn’t like this system. Regardless of what they thought about a king’s decision, the king could always say “God wills it and I am the earthly representative of God so you must do it.” An association of an official church with the ruler enhanced the power of the ruler at the expense of the people.

    Obviously, there are direct parallels with Japan. Shintoism was the official state religion of Meiji and Showa era Japan. The Japanese Emperor was the “god” of this religion and his “divine right,” if you will, was to wage war and mobilize his population and resources to that end. The militarists of Japan used the official state religion of their country as a mandate to do whatever they deemed necessary to fight and win their wars, despite the costs to their people and the people they had conquered. If any nation after 1945 needed a constitution that made an explicit separation of church and state, it was Japan.

  • provIdence

    I myself only had a look of the YuShuKan only once a few years ago because some of you were talking about it. The museum was rather large, much larger than it looks. I had only less than two hours before it closed. I looked around rather in a hurry, and I did not see anything which I did not like to see.

    The most people who visit the shrine are their relatives, i.e., parents, wives, children, other relatives, girls who liked them, etc., and now only old children and grandchildren. Do you want to disgrace families and relatives of the war dead publicly? How do you disgrace the Vietnam war dead in the US? How do you disgrace families and relatives of the Vietnam war dead? Just ignore them? Where do their families go to tell them that their boys or fathers fought a bad war?

    I would rather like you to single out some episodes from the linked article you meant although I must say that I am not a historian. Although YuShuKan is present in the very compound of Yasukuni, it is not at all a religious facility.

  • wangkon936

    Oh, brother.

  • provIdence

    Hi, Mr. King! In James Fallows’ article, he referred Yasukuni as war shrine, and I stopped taking him seriously. A war shrine usually shrines those who won or survived wars, not war dead.

  • eujin

    One of my favourite bits in the museum is near the end where they have a big board on the wall showing when all the Asian countries achieved independence from their colonial rulers thanks to the efforts of the Japanese in WWII; India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, they have quite a few.

    One of the countries they don’t have is Korea, which is odd, because of all the Asian countries, Korea’s independence from their colonial rulers is probably the most directly related to the efforts of the Japanese in WWII.

    The more Japanese people who learn about the existence of that museum (and the more shame they feel about its continuing existence in the heart of Tokyo) the better.

  • redwhitedude

    Well if the Japanese are solely relying on currency devaluation then they got it wrong. They should be churning products out that people find worth getting. If they are relying solely on price then that’s what low cost developing nations tend to do.

  • redwhitedude

    All the countries mentioned Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India were colonies of european powers so the Japanese could advertise themselves as supposed liberators against western colonialism which was not the case with Korea.

  • wangkon936

    Makes sense.

  • wangkon936

    Completely different situations.

  • wangkon936

    Then… there is the theory that Jingu was actually a princess from a kingdom in Korea and had actually conquered southern Japan. The scholars that complied the Nihongi reversed it to make up for Yamato’s final defeats on the peninsula in the 7th century:

    http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/nfile/2513

  • provIdence

    The Philippines became independent quite early until the US came back. As for Vietnam, I think Japan cooperated with Vichy France in its rule. Korea was handed over to the US Army following Japan’s defeat on August 15, 1945.

    Yasukuni attracts about 300 thousand people during the first three days of each new year while nearby Meiji attracts more than 3 million. Some people say Koreans’ efforts might help Yasukuni attract more people.

    I will visit YuShuKan again soon, after reading James Fallows’ articles, and pray at the shrine, possibly, for the benefit and happiness of all people.

  • wangkon936

    Korea was handed over to the USSR and the U.S. Remember, your Manchuria army completely fell apart which allowed the Russians to get as far as the 38th parallel on the Korean peninsula (in less than a week).

  • redwhitedude

    Ah revisionist history again. Philippines didn’t become independent until 1946 or 1947 as promised. It was a self governing entity under the US since the early 1900s with its own armed forces. Korea was occupied by the USSR and US in a hasty decision to divide the country because the US got the USSR to get involved in the far east. Japan came under US occupation or rather in your words it was handed over to the US.

    The Kwangtung army at the time was just a shell of its former self because the better troops were transferred to other theaters of operation which degraded its quality and was reduced to an occupation army in Manchuria. When the USSR attacked it was overwhelmed.

  • redwhitedude

    Huh? I don’t see any connection between the two.

  • wangkon936

    Then the Japanese should have surrendered a few days after Hiroshima instead of dilly dallying for over a week after Nagasaki.

    Well, it’s their loss too. The northern half of Korea hates them more than the southern half ever will and wants to finish what the Americans started and nuke them again.

  • redwhitedude

    Supposedly what made Japan surrender was the intervention of the USSR on the side of the allies not the atomic bombings. They were hoping that the USSR would intercede and mediate.

    Sadly the Japanese nuked themselves in worse way now.

  • wangkon936

    Then they should have surrendered three days after August 9th. If they had done that they could have at least saved some of their positions in central Manchuria and hence all of Korea.

  • redwhitedude

    I think by then the USSR was already on the attack.

  • provIdence

    The wiki entry in English for the Philippines depicts that “Japanese Empire invaded and established a puppet government.”

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    (face palm)

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Because there aren’t.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Are you suggesting US allies don’t caution American presidents against doing this or that all the time?

  • wangkon936

    Hummm… I am sensing a bit of a Fabian strategy here from the pro-ultra right wing camp.

  • redwhitedude

    Same here. Every time this issue gets brought up without fail they seem to show up.

  • Bob Bobbs

    Don’t you remember that time when Canada fought a war against America and nuked two of its cities? This is exactly like that situation.

  • Japanese

    >If the Japanese had surrendered immediately after Hiroshima, the Russians would never have had the chance to chase the Kwantung Army into Korea.

    Why? I beg your explanation. Russians marched south taking advantage of Japanese surrender. If Japan had surrendered earlier, they would have marched all the way through Busan. Please remember, some allied country had to occupy Korea at the end of ww2. Regardless of what Japan did, Russians would have never let it go.

  • provIdence

    Koreans may want to straighten the history even of Japan’s mythological age in comparison with their own history which spans over 5000 years. Are you one of such people? (I wonder whether this reaction is appropriate for your comment which is a riddle to me.)

  • yangachibastardo

    You are correct about the ineffectiveness of devaluations long-term…actually Abenomics is supposed to include a bunch of fairly generic reforms, on top of quantitative easing (“the three arrows”).

    If we concentrate on the FX thing though, as much as i think Uncle Shinzo is a douche, in this case the Japanese might have a point to feel sour against the original 4 Asian Tigers.

    All 4 of them, let’s admit it, have tempered with their own currency, not unlike the Japanese in the pre-Plaza era, a bit too much.

    Have you ever been to my country (Italy) redwhite ? Well i’ll tell you somthing: despite all our shit we still have a significantly higher per capita nominal GDP than Korea (while Korea is way ahead on a PPP basis).

    Now anybody who spent a couple of days in both countries would shrug off as laughable the notion that Korea is the poorer of the 2.

    Part of the reason of this discrepancy lies in the fact in Europe you have a much larger state sector sucking up/generating over 50% of the GDP, while the comparable number for Korea is around 22%. Hence Korean employers suffer a much lower cost of labour while offering comparable net salaries.

    Part of it though can be explained by a ridiculously manipulated currency, which to this day is only traded onshore and enjoys limited convertibility.

    Korea (and even more massively Taiwan) have enjoyed a first world economy with a third world currency: the best of both worlds, if you discount the damage this policy has caused to the local capital markets.

    All in all we can’t be really surprised if the Shinzhead is trying to force his neighbours to go through their own Plaza Accord moment

  • redwhitedude

    Hence Europe is “Socialist”. Having a large state sector isn’t good. It leads to inefficiencies and waste. I used to live in Spain and I have traveled to Italy once. Boy what a mess of a country. Both states are not pretty sight.

  • redwhitedude

    You mean Japanese history starts at 10000BC with the Jomon?

  • wangkon936

    Yeah, they invaded on 8/9. I’m arguing that Japan should have surrendered by 8/12, before the Manchukuo capital fell.

  • redwhitedude

    I’m not sure if that would have made any difference because Korea was also bordering the USSR and they would have marched right into northern Korea in the mean time.

  • yangachibastardo

    I agree: Japan has been able to pull through so far thanks to massive level of financial coercion imposed to their base of domestic institutional investors and thanks to an industrial machine competitive enough to still prevent a yen meltdown…if they don’t start fixing their problems for real, they’re looking into Banana Republic status in 10 years.

    And yes so far Abenomics has boosted industrial production mostly in sectors tied to domestic demand for investments (aka more Keynesian tripe): not very promising.

    Not that Korea is devoid of serious economic challenges of her own but I’m confident Koreans will come out of it on top.

    PS

    I personally believe France is even more third worldish than my own nation: last May i drove through Southern France to Andorra for business, it was nightmarish. Catalunya looked positively civilized in comparison and Andorra is actually extremely nice

  • redwhitedude

    France and Korea share one thing in common. The level of centralization. France is so centralized in Paris while Korea is so centralized in Seoul.

    As to government bonds it is a sellers market(the government can set the rates because of domestic buyers are rushing in or getting suckered to buy government bonds).

    Abe has a country that has very powerful interests in keeping the status quo and political establishment is tied with local business interests.

    Korea has domestic household debt and state firm debt that stand out. The jury is still out on how the FTA with EU and US will impact Korea in the longrun but it is one step better than Japan which doesn’t have any meaningful deals like that of significance. It is a very protected market which goes with what I said about political establishment and business interests. With the 2 problems with Korea what could happen? Recession people stop spending and the state firms have to work out of their debt issues which drag government finances and anything that is exposed to these firms. Japan on the other hand the government finances are going to be taxed, if they can’t do that then the credibility of anything yen denominated is at stake due to inability to fulfill debt obligations. They are already spending 1/4 of their budget on interests on the debt.

    Of course then you got China with their local government debt and their unreliability in reporting things accurately. It seems not many people trusts government figures that come out of there.

  • pleiades.emperor

    Korea is the “biggest victims of Japanese imperial aggression”?

    Maybe they want to forget the fact that they were on Japanese side during WW2, and lots of them were executed as war climinals, class Bs and Class Cs.

    Tell the victim mentallity of Koreans to Chinese where Koreans were called as the second devils, where Japanese is the first devil.

  • redwhitedude

    Oh brother.
    Here we go again.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Not at all. Look at Cuba.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Hypocritical, eh?

  • SeoulGoodman

    I’m suggesting that you’re more open to the idea of the US government “advising” their allies than them reciprocating.

  • pleiades.emperor

    I am rather new, and rarely read marmot hole. What is again?

    Korean saying biggest victim, critisism by others, or others?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I’d say that about sums it up.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    You have to give netouyo credit for their persistence.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I’d say there’s a direct relationship between the room an ally has to “advise” and its relative contributions to the alliance.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Hypocritical and arrogant? Nice.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I suppose you could see it that way. Other might see it as simply a truism.

  • cckerberos

    “at least caution him against pissing off potentially friendly neighbors at a time
    when Japan can least afford to do so.”

    I’m sure something like this happened, but I doubt it had much effect. There was a very good Yomiuri article providing some behind the scenes information on Abe’s decision to visit Yasukuni (no longer available, of course, because Japanese newspapers hate the internet). According to the article, part of Abe’s rationale was that relations with China and Korea were already so bad that it wasn’t a reason for holding off on the visit.

  • cckerberos

    I think most agree that it was a bad idea. Even the polls I’ve seen of the Japanese public show that most think Abe shouldn’t have done it. But I don’t really see separation of church and state as being a problem here.

    Article 20 of the Japanese constitution places some pretty strict restrictions on government involvement with religion (“No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority” and “The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity”).

    While there are obviously other, bigger issues involved, Abe’s visit was the act of a private citizen visiting a private religious institution in an unofficial capacity. Not only does that not come into conflict with the separation of church and state as outlined in the Japanese constitution, I think it’s almost certainly something he’s entitled to do under the constitution’s guarantee of the freedom of religion.

    (Not that this isn’t something to worry about in general… Abe’s desire to add more “moral education” to Japanese schools is troubling.)

  • redwhitedude

    Funny you cherry pick comments.

  • redwhitedude

    But that makes any attempt to reconcile harder. I read of that point being made that without Park and China giving him any chance to communicate he could just go ahead and do whatever he wants such as visit Yasukuni.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Yes, some might. After all, nationalists tend to be biased.

  • pleiades.emperor

    Are you explaining what you are doing?
    You comments are all over here.

  • pleiades.emperor

    What a starange place here.

    Labeling is so wide spread, and it seems no one thinks that is bad. And it seems those who use labeling seem to think they are right.

    I first did not understand netouyo is ネトウヨ, a word so wide spread in 2ch. Here is more like 2ch. funny. And you have a strange photo with Jesus Christ. Who do you intend to attack? I really want to know.

    I have one strange experience on the Net. Someone I forgot said something about Mongol attack to Japan. It was meant to offend me, which I did not understand for long. The invasion was so long ago, no one cares.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    You poor thing, you.

  • redwhitedude

    Must be a 2ch reject.

  • pleiades.emperor

    Manse! Stupid Jesus photo.
    Manse! Stupid labelling.