The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: Japan (page 2 of 46)

Racist Japanese football (soccer) fans

Japanese football fans of the team Urawa Reds got their team in trouble by showing a banner of “Japanese Only” at a game against the Sagan Tosu. The Japanese League has ordered the Urawa Red Diamonds to play a home game without any fans present for the next home game.
For me it’s blatantly obvious what the fans meant by the banner, especially if you just glance at the wiki entry of Sagan Tosu – the team they were playing against, but apparently not to Debito Arutou, who’s written a whole article and a online check-box thingumajig to find out what people think the banner intended. I’m surprised he mentions China (like, come on Japan is not China, so should behave better) but not South Korea.

Bringing Tokdo, Comfort Woman etc to the sports arena is distasteful enough but I would say it rests precariously on the “political” side of the fence.. However players making monkey faces (yes, I’m talking about Ki) at fans’ Rising Sun Flag and banners like these are clearly going towards the more ugly end of the spectrum. In fact, I would say they are just ugly juvenile miming of the European league hooliganism, which has so far managed to evade the Asian football leagues, but perhaps no longer.

How to grow STAP Cells and a national scandal involving stem cells

There were many congratulations and hullabaloo last month as a paper on producing STAP cells got accepted in the Nature magazine. STAP is short for “Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency”, and in layman’s terms, these refer to cells which can be “stressed” into becoming a basic block cells (stem cells) to become other kinds of cells, the so-called “pluripotent cells”.
The main author from RIKEN (a Japanese government research institute in KOBE), Haruko Obokata, 30, became an instant celebrity not least for her age and pretty looks amid a muttering of first Japanese female “Nobel-prize” here and there..

However, a little over a month after the publication, there is concern about the legitimacy of the paper, the latest call for retraction by one of the Japanese co-authors of the paper itself. The main concern has been some image duplication/misuse and the lack of replication of result so far despite attempts by the outside institutes, despite the authors following up with a ‘how to’ manual – which reads like ‘a how to make a perfect sponge cake – with extra ふわふわの感じ..’

There has been some interest in this in the South Korean press, as South Korea knows all too well about stem cell related national disgrace. I think it’s early days for dismissing the result altogether. The co-author who asked for the withdrawal himself still believes in the main result, but if you read that one lone comment on the Nature blog, it’s “Sounds Familiar?” time again. And this article paints a rather glum outlook.

So now is the time to comment and to predict, and to refer back to it and say “I told you so!”(similar things happened with a few physics sensationalist results recently, where there was a period of time where speculators were commenting on the blogs/FB before some further investigations reached a conclusion..i.e. it’s “bets are on time!” – pure punting, without knowing the full detail..)

Personally what’s more interesting for me, Continue reading

Influence peddling in Virginia ‘East Sea’ debate?

Read the comments made by Sonagi and King Baeksu in this thread on ROKDrop.

Personally, I think the effort to promote the use of the term “East Sea” overseas is a bit silly and probably a waste of resources better spent on more important issues like the “Comfort Women.” That said, I find the Japanese reaction—essentially, threatening economic cooperation with the Commonwealth of Virginia—also interesting, since I’m often assured that Japan is the mature party here.

And say what you will about Koreans and Korean-Americans bringing their “old country” hangups to the United States, but it’s not a new phenomenon:

The furor is relatively over very low stakes. After all, it’s about adding the label East Sea next to Sea of Japan on maps, not even replacing it. But it serves as a symbol of the new ethnic politics in the United States. For decades, politicians appealing for votes from ethnic communities had to take certain stands on foreign policy issues. Every politician in Massachusetts would be adamantly against British policy in Northern Ireland, every elected official on Long Island would ardently support the State of Israel and California politicos would do their utmost to appropriately commemorate the Armenian Genocide. This is simply a new variation on that old pattern and marks the increasing importance of Asian-American voters in electoral politics.

The level of East Asian politics – unwelcome love calls & my enemy’s enemy is not my friend

Firstly, let me re-iterate that there is something that I am absolutely 150 percent fine with, and that is the name of 동해 East Sea, expressed by everybody as Sea of Japan. In fact, I have always maintained that this naming is one of the issues which detracts from the more serious issues of contention by Korea in the East Asian politics.
Having said that, there is something so low about the way Chinese are blatantly trying to enlist Korean government’s support in its anti-Japan stance, that it makes my flesh creep. Recently, I’ve seen interviews of Chinese politicians talking about Japan, with no Korean presence, saying “Korea is also agreeing with us in how Japan should do XXX” or “Korean president also blah blah”.
Now, quoting a Chinese professor, the Chinese government has let it slip that if requested formally by the Korean government, it can consider co-labeling East Sea on its map on the government website (at the moment it’s only labeled as 日本海)..Isn’t it a joke? I think I have seen more highbrow political maneuvering at a kindergarten playground when you swap toshirak side-dishes 반찬. Understandably, the Korean comments which follow are 95 percent against it, ranging from mild skepticism to “return Koguryo’s history and Kando first, and free Tibet! and “Stop with the mirco-dust”

Usually I don’t really like what comes out of the mouths of those hired by Park Kunhye but a few days ago, I read this from the Blue House spokesman, Cho Taeyoung with regards to relations with Japan, and I thought he was quite coherent and succinct.
Cho says that “the Japanese government keeps on choosing to do all the things Korean government has requested specifically not to do yet keeps going on about the worsening relationship.”
Asked about the possibility about collaborating with China on the history problem, Cho’s said

그는 또 일제의 난징(南京)대학살 만행을 국제사회에 다시 고발한 중국과의 ‘과거사 문제’ 공조 문제에 대한 질문에 “협조할 필요가 없다”면서 “굳이 만나서 협의하고 협조할 필요가 없을 정도로 상황이 돼 있다”고 답했다.
There is no need for any collaboration (with China). The situation is already so that there is no need to meet (with China) and collaborate and aid each other on this…

How hard it is to stay in the middle..is it shrimp season?

Japanese-Americans sue Glendale for comfort women statue

And this morning, I threw up a little bit in my mouth (HT to Stephen):

Now Japanese-American plaintiffs, served by American megafirm Mayer Brown, are pursuing the agenda of reactionary Japanese politicians through despicable litigation.

Glendale, California is a suburb of Los Angeles. I grew up next door and still live there. It’s incredibly diverse with many thriving ethnic communities. In 2013 the City of Glendale erected a modest memorial to the comfort women of World War II in a public park next to the library. Japanese politicians were enraged and have repeatedly demanded that the memorial be removed. The federal lawsuit filed by Mayer Brown seeks to have the memorial removed by force of law.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit — which I have uploaded here — are Glendale resident Michiko Shiota Gingery, Los Angeles resident Koichi Mera, and GAHT-US Corporation, which says it is in the business of providing “accurate and fact-based educational resources to the public in the U.S., including within California and Glendale, concerning the history of World War II and related events, with an emphasis on Japan’s role.” (MARMOT’S NOTE: Just out of curiosity, is its office next to the German American Bund‘s?) The plaintiffs complain that the presence of the comfort women memorial in Glendale causes them to suffer “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger because of the position espoused by her city of residence through its display and endorsement” of the monument, and that they avoid the park because it shows a “pointed expression of disapproval of Japan and the Japanese people” and diminishes their enjoyment of the park. Though the lawsuit discusses a controversy over what the Empire of Japan did to women in the war, the complaint unsubtly conveys a position: “These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute.”

Read the complain here.

Unsurprisingly, the lawsuit has the support of the Japanese government:

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga clearly empathized with the lawsuit in a news conference held Feb. 21.

“It is extremely regrettable that the statue was erected,” he said. “Japanese residents in America felt the same way as the Japanese government over the statue and resorted to the lawsuit.”

역시…

Interestingly, one of the plaintiffs is a former professor at USC.

애증, two sides to a coin in this relationship

Happy Valentines Day!

I would like to draw attention to two articles, one in Korean in DongA on Korea-Japan relationship for the last 1 year and 6 months and the other in English- another one by Mariko Oi on Japan-China relationship for seven decades.

I came across the first article in Korean a couple of days ago and thought, this is a rather excellent summary of what has been happening. Why 1 year and 6 months? Because the article pinpoints the start of the souring of the relationship as when LMB visited 독도, but says it will refrain from discussing whether it was the right move or not. Throughout the article it does an excellent job of refraining.

Then it goes onto summarize what has been happening in 5 points. Again this is such a good summary that I feel it’s a pity that somebody hasn’t done the translation already that I could just easily link to, and I need to do a rough-and-quick summary/translation.

First, it discusses the leaders at the helm of each country – Abe and Park. Abe’s strong historical stance is at the heart of the problem, and Koreans are having a harder type separating the Japanese politicians from the Japanese people as his popularity is very strong in Japan and unlikely to wane. Park of course, has drawn the line of her reply so very final by giving interviews and making speech home and abroad, and these two extreme stance give very little leeway for diplomatic channels to work under.

Second, it points out the change in the feelings of the ordinary Japanese people. Before when criticized or asked for an apology by Koreans, ordinary Japanese would not like it but have the attitude that they did do wrong in the past…now, the atmosphere is “Again, it’s the apology demand” and call this symptom of “being sick and tired of apologizing”. I especially like how the article then goes on to say this is how it is, that the Koreans should just accept this as reality and a phenomenon. It adds that the weakening of the Japanese opposition Minju party and its weakened role as a opposition is contributing to the overall shrinking of pro-Korean sentiment within Japan.

Third, it says now the Kyopos abroad are involved in this – highlighting the Glendale Comfort woman statue, French manga festival etc. and when things get played out on foreign turf, it exacerbates the situation as it gets the local media involved and subsequently each country’s pride is involved.

Fourth, it mentions that the rise of China, and Chinese heckling of power. It very clearly says that the current camaraderie felt by Korea towards China is a big illusion, and that China will make its decisions with no regards to Korea, that Korea should separate itself in its stance from China and make the relevant points against Japan it needs to make.

Finally, it says that the US has become ambiguous in its position between Japan and Korea. This is because there is a rise in US public figures voicing their opinion against the Japanese historical perception. However the article says that the US needs Japan very much so it will never go against Japan becoming a normalized country by defense arming, and Korea should just accept this with a cool head.

미국은 현재 일본을 매우 필요로 하고 있다는 사실이다. 따라서 미국은 일본이 ‘집단자위권 확대’ 등을 통해 소위 ‘보통국가’나 ‘정상국가’가 되는 것을 끝까지 지지할 것이며, 말리는 일은 없을 것이라는 사실이다. 한국은 이 점을 냉철히 받아들여야 한다

I like this article so much that I am looking forward to the next installment where the writer says he/she will come up with some suggestions to improve the relation.

The BBC article by Mariko Oi about Japan-China, you can read it yourselves in English. As I have said in the past, she is somebody I could very much identify with, having both a domestic/foreign education and probably friends across the globe including from the respective countries, trying to get her head around the situation.

I would like to say that there is a word in Korean/Japanese/Chinese called 애증・あいぞう。愛憎..from Korean point of view, I think this is something quite relevant towards the Japanese in the modern history. Constantly wanting apology/approval/comparison. It’s the inferiority complex, which should become irrelevant once the mentality of the people develop to match the rest. I used to worry what Aung Sang Suu Kyi would do with her life/emotion if she were released.

I would have thought that there is “apology demanding fatigue” phenomenon just as there is “apology giving fatigue” phenomenon. Maybe Koreans should eat less ginseng.

UPDATE: There is a video of BBC interview with Mariko Oi and Haining Liu. Interesting that Mariko says that she actually felt vulnerable as a Japanese in Nanjing that if anybody asked she would pretend to be Korean. Actually I also know that she visited Korea and felt comfortable at wondered how similar and nice it was to be Korea as a Japanese..

UPDATE 2 : There is another BBC Newsnight interview of the Japanese ambassador and the Chinese ambassador by Jeremy Paxman. IN DIFFERENT ROOMS! Paxman walked from one room to the next!!! I guess the two Voldemorts cannot be in the same room otherwise anti-matter-matter collision might occur. They should make the same video as they did here between the loop quantum gravitist and string theorist..with Jeremy Paxman in a cleavage-revealing skirt ..I know that Korea shouldn’t be the shrimp between two whales but it’s funny that in both the first Mariko Oi video and the Ambassador’s video Korea is mentioned even though there’s not a Korean in sight.

Flavour of the Month Addendum – Just How Many Flavours Does Bad Come in?

The very recent election of a mayor for Tokyo is such a many-layered example of bad.

The Pro-nuclear candidate Yoichi Masuzoe won an election, based on one of the lowest turnouts ever, to become mayor of Tokyo. This is a candidate that was backed by Abe’s ruling party, a candidate whose candidacy was considered a test for the public support for resuming of nuclear power plants in Japan, not to mention his sparkling commentary back in 1989 about women:

“Women are not normal when they are having a period … You can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country [during their period] such as whether or not to go to war,”

Yes, he is a special candidate that represents the current leadership of Japan and their interests all too well. Naturally, some Japanese women have reacted by declaring a Lysistrata-style strike, declaring that any man that votes for Masu-man gets no sex.  Just take a good look at what kills all the fun nowadays:

nuclear jackass

The opposition, aided by former PM Koizumi, split, thus losing the election:

Mr Masuzoe’s closest rivals were lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya, 67, who came second, and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, 76, who was backed by popular fellow former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

(Shades of Roh Dae-woo).  The most fitting summary of all this, I think is from the Japansubculture guys who think:

Once again, Japan has shown us that with enough voter apathy, a compliant media, and the connections and funding of the nuclear industry, that any middle-aged asshole guy can be the leader of one of Japan’s largest city-states.

Considering the Right-wing, historically myopic, PR-impaired leadership that is Japan today, I guess this guy will fit right in.

“The Japanese are waiting for us to die”

The UK’s Daily Mail published an AP article today regarding the plight of the so-called “comfort women” residing in the House of Sharing in Korea.  Included in the article are quite a few pictures and some videos.

There are only 55 women left alive at the House of Sharing and their average age is 88.  The chance to offer an acceptable apology to the survivors of Imperial Japan’s comfort women system is rapidly coming to an end.

“… the women may also be the last chance for America’s two most important Asian allies to settle a dispute that has boiled over in recent years, as more of the so-called “comfort women” die and Tokyo and Seoul trade increasingly bitter comments about their bloody history.

“It will be much harder to solve, or more realistically mitigate, the issue after these women pass away,’ Robert Dujarric, an Asia specialist at Temple University’s Tokyo campus, said in an email. ‘Now, there are people — the former sex slaves — to apologize to. Afterward, there will be no one left to receive the apology.”

Comfort woman survivor Kim Gun-ja puts things in starker terms:

“The Japanese are waiting for us to die.”

Odds and Ends: the Innovative Korea Edition

- Somebody forgot to tell Bloomberg that Koreans are automatons who lack creativity:

South Korea ranked first in Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index.

Booyah.

Lovely photo on the “Methodology” slide, too.

Financial Times’ Seoul correspondent tweets that “many in S Korea would dispute this finding.” The ensuring Twitter conversation is worth reading, especially TK’s comments. For what it’s worth, while I agree that “many in S Korea would dispute this finding,” including many Koreans themselves, I myself am not really surprised Korea placed so high.

Anyway, this is going to make President Park Geun-hye very happy—she can’t get through a speech without mentioning “the creative economy.”

– Once again, Koreans are overreacting to a perceived historical slight, with the Korean ambassador to the United States threatening business ties with a US state.

Oh, wait:

The government of Japan urged Democrat Terry McAuliffe in late December to oppose an obscure bill in the Virginia legislature about textbooks or risk damaging the economic relationship between the two governments, according to a letter obtained Thursday by The Washington Post.

In the letter to McAuliffe before his gubernatorial inauguration, Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae urged him to oppose a measure that would require future Virginia textbooks that mention the Sea of Japan to note that it is also known as the East Sea — the name preferred by Koreans.
[…]
In his letter, Sasae said: “I worry that Japanese affinity towards Virginia could be hampered” if the measure is enacted. He noted the $1 billion in direct investment that Japan has made in Virginia in five years, the 250 Japanese companies with investments in the state and the multimillion-dollar export market in Japan for products from Virginia.

“[I] fear . . . that the positive cooperation and strong economic ties between Japan and Virginia may be damaged,” he wrote.

Look on the bright side, Japan—sure, that’s some seriously ham-fistedness, but it’s not quite as bad as offering to plant cherry trees in a city that’s largely Korean. And look at how far your diplomacy has come since the Twenty-One Demands!

– Meanwhile, in Davos, the Chinese and Japanese (admittedly, more the former than the latter) are giving us plenty of reason to be afraid, be very afraid. Read the respective rants by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on your own—I’ll just reprint this chilling conclusion by The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

As readers know, I have been writing about this parallel for a long time. China is exploiting incidents to test the willingness of the United States to stand behind its treaty alliance with Japan, just as Kaiser Wilhelm provoked spats to test England’s willingness to stand behind its entente with France. It was a self-reinforcing process before 1914, and it is self-reinforcing now. All it takes to produce a catalyst is some “damn fool thing in the Balkans” to borrow a term.
[…]
Listening to the raw passion in the voices of Shinzo Abe and Wang Yi over the last 24 hours, I think there is an astonishing level complacency about the world’s most dangerous fault-line.

As for the “damn fool thing in the Balkans” thing, “an influential Chinese professional” at Davos reportedly silenced a room by openly talking about igniting World War III:

But then he said that many in China believe that China can accomplish its goals — smacking down Japan, demonstrating its military superiority in the region, and establishing full control over the symbolic islands — with a surgical invasion.

In other words, by sending troops onto the islands and planting the flag.

The Chinese professional suggested that this limited strike could be effected without provoking a broader conflict. The strike would have great symbolic value, demonstrating to China, Japan, and the rest of the world who was boss. But it would not be so egregious a move that it would force America and Japan to respond militarily and thus lead to a major war.

Well, when the Chinese professional finished speaking, there was stunned silence around the table.

Stock up on Pepto-Bismol, folks.

(HT to Joshua Trevino)

So, Mr. Suga, what IS the other side?

Japan is unhappy about the recent opening of a memorial hall to Ahn Jung-geun in Harbin China:

“The co-ordinated move by China and South Korea based on a one-sided view [of history] is not conducive to building peace and stability,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, you’ll recall, is the gentleman who had previously referred to Ahn as a “criminal.

Some might see this as an insult. I see it as an opportunity. A Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson needs to go out there immediately and ask Suga, “OK, what’s the other side then?”

I’m serious. Where historical issues are concerned, Japan is its own worst enemy. As we’ve seen in the New York Times, with the New York State Senate and, heck, even my humble comment section, Japanese right-wing nationalists absolutely love to talk, and the more they do, the worse they look. And the best part is, they’re completely oblivious to how nauseatingly bad they look, so they just keep going and going.

So just get Suga talking—he’ll do more to promote the Korean side than 100 angry condemnations from the Korean Foreign Ministry.

Trust me, Foreign Ministry guys. You’ll thank me later.

Anyway, one of the side benefits of the Ahn Jung-geun memorial has been the spectacle of Japanese editorial writers rending their garments in grief and outrage. See, for instance, the Yomiuri Shimbun, which in an editorial entitled “South Korea’s anti-Japan diplomatic maneuvering goes too far” (stop laughing now, dammit!) complains:

Yet we feel the memorial hall—built with no regard for Japan’s position or its national sentiments—is absolutely unacceptable.

I’ll let you meditate on the irony of a Japanese paper whinging about hurt feelings. And ponder this warning for a moment:

China is a multiethnic nation, and praising Ahn risks stirring up ethnic consciousness among the ethnic Koreans living within its borders.

And Japan would know, seeing how it spent most of the 1930s and 1940s trying to dismember China.

Finally, more whining about “Korea making us look bad with its one-sided views of history”:

Meanwhile, apart from the issues surrounding the Ahn memorial, South Korea has intensified its one-sided assertions regarding its historical perceptions. We cannot overlook the fact that such assertions undermine Japan’s position in international institutions and in the eyes of other countries.

As I said above, nothing—and I do mean nothing—“undermines Japan’s position in international institutions and in the eyes of other countries” than when Japanese themselves try to counter Korea’s “one-sided assertions.” It’s not Korea that makes Japan look like a nation of unrepentant assholes. It’s Japan that makes Japan look like a nation of unrepentant assholes.

Anyway, here’s a suggestion to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga—wanna see a memorial to real criminals? Hop on a subway and visit Yasukuni.

Japanese airline sorry for ‘racist’ ad

Expats in Japan are ticked off about what they say is a racist ad. I don’t know, I wasn’t moved either way –though the descendents of Cyrano de Bergerac might take offense.

Nonetheless (or always the more), there was an eruption from the netosphere.

“I’ve just seen the new ANA advert…Really? ANA think this is OK?!” Angela Fukutome said in a message posted on ANA’s Facebook page.

“If you are a foreigner and have planned to come to £Japan do not choose an openly racist airline like £ANA! Watch their Japanese commercial,” tweeted @sibylleito on Twitter.

An ANA spokeswoman said the carrier “has received calls from customers, mostly foreigners, complaining about the ad.”

“We apologised to each of the customers for having caused uncomfortable feelings and also thanked them for bringing up the issue,” she told AFP.

http://youtu.be/2jgzAOCmWA0

Memorial hall for Ahn Jung-geun opens in Harbin

Harbin Railway Station is now the proud home of a memorial hall for Korean patriotic martyr Ahn Jung-geun:

A memorial opened on Sunday in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, to commemorate a Korean patriot who killed a top Japanese official over a century ago.

Ahn Jung Geun shot dead Hirobumi Ito, who had served as the prime minister of Japan four times before becoming resident-general of Korea in 1905, at Harbin railway station on Oct. 26, 1909. He was arrested at the scene of shooting and secretly executed in March 1910 by Japanese forces.

Covering an area of more than 100 square meters, the memorial hall consists of exhibition rooms telling the story of Ahn’s life, and shows the exact spot where the shooting took place.

Yonhap reports that the Chinese media is giving the opening major coverage, with much praise directed at Ahn by the press and Chinese netizens.

The Japanese press, meanwhile, is interpreting the opening of the memorial hall as a sign of Sino-Korean cooperation to pressure Japan on historical issues. One Japanese paper, the far-right Sankei Shimbun, suggested that China had been lukewarm about building the memorial after Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed it in June, but Japanese PM Abe Shinzo’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine may have spurred Beijing to action.

You’ll recall that back in November, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed displeasure about the statue, calling Ahn a “criminal.” Which, sadly, is just the sort of statement we’ve come to expect from high-ranking Japanese officials nowadays. Anyway, I’ll repeat here what I said back then:

Expect more of this cooperation between Korea and China in the future. I’m not especially comfortable with it, and ideally, I’d like to see greater cooperation between Korea and Japan. That said, Japan doesn’t make it easy sometimes. I’m not sure what Suga hoped to gain for Japan with his statement—scoring points with some domestic lobbies, perhaps?—but as an act of diplomacy, all it does is give propaganda material to Korea and China and drive Seoul closer to Beijing at a time when Tokyo really should be working to gain an ally.

“You’re Voldemort” “No You are!” “No You are times 100 million thousand and 반사!”

I don’t like Harry Potter, there! I’ve said it! I’ve read one (don’t remember which one) and thought it was overrated, especially compared to the classics like Winnie the Pooh or the Moomintrolls or even Paddington Bear, or even closer to the genre, the Enid Blyton classics of St.Clares/Famous Five or Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives series…
How funny are these people then!
I am linking to the Guardian and not the original Telegraph where this is played out, because the way I was raised, Telegraph is the Voldemort.

Comfort Women statue sparks competing White House petitions

We mentioned Tony Marano’s petion at the White House earlier. Now it seems somebody has started a counter-petition:

On Saturday, a blogger identified with initial S.H. submitted a petition to counter Marano’s claim, asking for the protection of the monument.

In the petition, the initiator said, “The Peace Monument is symbolizing the victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military during World War II. And we have to know history correctly.”

So far, the petition has received more than 200 signatures.

You can find the petition here.

Personally, I think petitions are a waste of time, but anything that counters Tony Marano’s asshatery is probably worth doing. LA’s CBS affiliate described Marano’s Youtube video thusly:

The petition was started by a Texas man by the name of Tony Marano. On his YouTube channel, he states, “these women were recruited and they volunteered to serve in these comfort women houses for the Japanese Imperial Army.”

Yes, he did say that. But that’s not all he said. I hate to link to this reprehensible douchebag’s video again, but it really deserves its own Two Minutes Hate—scroll to about 55 seconds in. As a matter of theology, I don’t really believe in hell, but if I did, I’d like to believe anyone who goes on video to call the victims of gang rape by the Imperial Japanese Army “ugly prostitutes” has a place reserved for him in Damnation.

Chosun Ilbo sorta blames US for Abe’s asshattery

Nobody will accuse the Chosun Ilbo of being instinctively anti-American, but in this morning’s editorial they call on the United States to do something about Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Interestingly enough, the editorial begins by citing a recent NYT and WaPo editorials criticizing Abe’s visit to Yasukuni (Marmot’s Note: I get the feeling the Chosun didn’t read the entire NYT editorial).

Then, however, the Chosun says Abe is behaving like he is because he thinks he’s got the United States behind him. The United States wants to use Japan to fill in the gap resulting from lower US defense expenditures. Abe knows this, and is spouting off with little concern about pissing off Washington. US criticism of Abe’s provocations have been little or none, while Washington has shown active support for Abe’s push to remilitarize Japan under the name of collective defense. This American attitude, says the Chosun, has brought about Abe’s miscalculations.

The Chosun wonders why the United States treats Abe’s historical distortions—and his denial of Japan’s wars as wars of aggression in particular—as somebody’s else’s problem when its an attack on the legitimacy of the sacrifices made by Americans killed in the Pacific War (note to Chosun Ilbo: in our defense, we did nuke two Japanese cities, which tends to release a great deal of han). If Washington had issued a strong warning to Abe, he would never have engaged in behavior that has essentially wiped out the historical reflection Japan had made so far. Meanwhile, Washington is telling Korea that it must deal with security issues and historical issues separately.

The Chosun Ilbo quotes the New York Times: “Japan’s military adventures are only possible with American support; the United States needs to make it clear that Mr. Abe’s agenda is not in the region’s interest. Surely what is needed in Asia is trust among states, and his actions undermine that trust” (Marmot’s Note: I think they skipped over the entire middle part criticizing President Park Geun-hye’s refusal to meet Abe as giving him the freedom to visit Yasukuni). Anyway, the Chosun warns that unless the United States gets Abe to apologize for the shrine visit and promise not to do it again, cracks will emerge in US strategy in Asia. Japanese money won’t be able to mend the harm done to the United States in the region by the wounds left in Korean hearts.

The Chosun notes that US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a statement on Dec 28 welcoming the decision by Okinawa Prefecture to accept the Futenma relocation plan, saying the continuous partnership between the United States and Japan would strengthen. This came just a day after a State Department spokesperson issued a statement of regret over the Yasukuni visit. The Chosun thinks maybe Abe though he could pacify American protests to the shrine visit with this “gift,” and that we’ll soon learn whether he was right.

The Chosun concludes by warning US President Barack Obama, who’s visiting Japan in April, that without a fundamental shift in Japan’s attitude, the United States will find it difficult to get its new Asia strategy off the ground.

Marmot’s Note: Look, I think I’ve made it pretty clear I think Shinzo Abe’s a jerk. And yeah, I think there needs to be diplomatic consequences to some of his antics, including the recent visit to Yasukuni. As a friend, the United States needs to sit Abe down and explain to him in no uncertain terms that being a dick won’t help him achieve the goals that both he and the Americans want.

That said, it’s probably in everybody’s best interest—the Americans, the Koreans and the Japanese—to compartmentalize a bit here. Countries do this all the time. Turkey enjoys security cooperation with a large number of countries—including Korea, BTW—despite Turkey being pretty unapologetic about the Armenian genocide. As far as I know, America’s Middle Eastern allies don’t make security cooperation contingent on accepting the Arab view of the Crusades (Marmot’s Note: which, as everyone knows, were a defensive war).

For what it’s worth, I thought the US State Department statement was rather strong. Still, there’s only so loud the United States can get here. Japan’s an important US ally, and as I said in the previous paragraph, it’s hardly the only US ally with a questionable interpretation of history. Japan’s World War II history gives the United States a bit more latitude to speak, but even that has limits—interpreting one’s history is, after all, largely an internal matter. Mind you, I’m inclined to agree that Japan’s historical distortions are an insult to American veterans of World War II, but Japan is not the only country to insult US veterans of the Pacific War with bullshit interpretations of wartime atrocities (see also here).

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