The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: East and Central Asia (page 2 of 96)

What Time Is It?

89_military-souvenir

Today marks a terrible anniversary and this cheap-looking watch is a souvenir of things past that certain people want forgotten or claim didn’t really happen.

What Obama should do

So Obama apparently enjoyed a cosy Sushi dinner at a Ginza joint with probably less than 10 people present, including Caroline Kennedy the US Ambassador to Japan, and Abe Shinzo. They probably sat and ate at one of those typical shoulder-to-shoulder counters at one of those posh sushi joints smaller than a shoe display case attached to one of those walk-in closets in most American houses.

Abe chose the menu apparently, hearing that Obama was a sushi fan. I wonder if Abe pulled one of those stunts – “Guess what you’ve just had, Madame Ambassador! Delicious, wasn’t it? Mwahahaha!” Probably not.

Obama is coming straight from Japan to Korea in a couple of days.

Ahead of his trip to Asia, the Whitehouse released Obama’s answers to his “interview with Yomiuri Shimbun”.

The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

I think Obama’s last attempt at getting Abe and Park to hold hands and be nice to each other went rather dismally at the Hague. As we know, Abe tried to break the ice with his attempt at Korean, but was met with a rather stony expression from Park.

Abe was recently asked at a Japanese Yomiuri TV show, “Were you surprised at being dismissed/ignored by Park?” to which he graciously replied “I heard her condition was not so good on that day. Maybe there was some problem with my Korean accent, although my wife had told me it was good.”

Park, on the other hand, has apparently been on the phone with China’s Xi namely to ask China to do everything to dissuade North Korea from further nuclear tests, as North Korea is clacking its pots and pans in the kitchen cupboard filled with supplies of “the enriched variety” , ahead of Obama visit to make him feel welcome. However, I see Park’s phone call more like phoning a current boyfriend to placate him ahead of an ex’s visit, to ensure nothing will happen. I notice she is so transparent and likes to do that – she also had a chummy meeting with Xi just before the last 3 way meeting between Japan US and S.Korea at the Hague.

So what should Obama do, as that is my title?

He should apply exactly the same principle w.r.t what he told Yomiuri Shimbun to his East Asian allies as well.

If his standard is based on “which country administers” then surely there is your answer.
Obama’s clear stance on the Senkaku islands has probably made Abe chuffed to bits, and if he really wants Japan and Korea together, Obama can and should tell Abe to lump it because “it is equally clear to the US that 독도 is administered by Korea.” If Abe can lump that, I think there will be some ray of hope between the Japan and the Korea relations.

However, “as if that would happen.” I invite comments on why it wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.

Maybe Obama will want to have a question from the Korean press. Anyone? Anybody? From the Korean press? Anybody?

Reneging on An Agreement – The PRC seizes A Japanese Ship Based Upon WWII Claims

emotionThere is talk in South Korea about compensating Korea’s Comfort Women from WWII, however, no court in Korea has decided to seize Japanese assets in lieu of compensation.  Currently, the Shanghai Maritime Court, in abeyance of a 1972 joint communique between Japan and China, has ordered the seizure of a Japanese ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. , as compensation for the loss of two ships leased from a Chinese company, before the two countries went to war in 1937 (cite).  The two ships were subsequently used by the Japanese Army during WWII.  

The Shanghai court ordered the seizure even though Japan and the PRC had signed a 1972 joint communique, when the two countries established diplomatic relations, that renounced war repatriations.  The PRC maintains that the seizure is not for war repatriations but is a civil matter.  This seizure comes upon the very recent visit of 150 Japanese politicians to Yasukune Shrine as well.

As reported by the BBC:

The owners of the Chinese shipping company (Zhongwei Shipping) sought compensation after World War Two and the case was reopened at a Shanghai court in 1988. The court ruled in 2007 that Mitsui had to pay 190 million yuan ($30.5m, £18m) as compensation for the two ships leased to Daido, a firm later part of Mitsui, Global Times and Kyodo said. Mitsui appealed against the decision, but it was upheld in 2012. . . (cite)

This sets a very ugly precedent that could ultimately chill business relations between the PRC and Japan, as well as serving a reminder to foreign business in China, that  operating in the PRC does carry risks that go beyond labor issues.  This raises the spectre of PRC retaliation against South Korean interests if anything should go sour between the two countries though South Korea has attempted to make nice between both countries by repatriating the remains of Chinese soldiers <reality>invaders</reality> from the Korean War.

The U.S. must help mediate between Korea and Japan

So, says Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel C. Sneider over at Foreign Affairs magazine. Shin and Sneider are Director and Associate Director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.

You need to register (it’s free for three article views a month) to see the whole article, but here are a few slices:

Japan and South Korea have made repeated efforts over the past two decades to resolve their wartime history issues, but progress has always proved short-lived. South Korean officials now openly plead for the United States to step in. 

[...]

Even so, China’s bid for regional domination makes it nearly impossible for the United States to continue to stay out of the fray…. By taking a leading role in dealing with the wartime past, the United States could make it difficult for Beijing to use it for political gain.

[...]

The oft-stated notion that the United States has no responsibility for history issues is a convenient myth. The United States made several key decisions right after the war that laid the groundwork for the current dispute. These range from its decision to put aside the issue of the emperor’s responsibility to its efforts to rehabilitate nationalist conservatives — including Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, the wartime minister in charge of Japan’s military industry — to counter Japan’s leftward drift, all of which undermined efforts within Japan to make a clear break with the past...

[...]

Such decisions made sense in the context of the Cold War because of the imperatives of the struggle against the Soviet and Chinese Communists. But they don’t anymore, and it is incumbent on the Untied States to help the region reconcile its past once and for all.

Here is a more moderate appeal (i.e. largely not involving the U.S.) by Ogata Sadako, former president of Japan International Cooperation Agency, Han Sung-Joo, former foreign minister of South Korea and Ezra F. Vogel, professor emeritus at Harvard University, in last Friday’s Washington Post opinion section.

Korean words starting to get loaned into Chinese

I would be the first person to admit many Chinese loan words have made it into Korean.  However, it’s interesting when there are reports that the reverse is happening.

The Chosun Ilbo reports that due to the popularity of Korean dramas in China, Korean terms such as “oppa” (오빠) and “ajumma” (아줌마) are entering Chinese popular vernacular.  The Chinese, however, are putting different meanings behind the words.  오빠, which in Korean can mean anything from a female’s older brother to a female’s older male friend or even boyfriend/lover, has adopted the Chinese characters “,” pronounced “ou-pa” in Mandarin and the meaning of “…amorous feelings toward the subject.”

Ajumma/아줌마?  Well, the Chinese already has a popular word for “auntie,” (阿姨/āyí in Mandarin) the rough equivalent of “아줌마” so it’s adopted the meaning of “…to refer to tough women.”

The battle for Japan’s soul

It get’s rather tempting sometimes in blogs like this to discuss the Japanese as a monolith and generalize.  That they collectively think or feel a certain way.  That they, as a group, do not think or care about what they did during World War II or the decades before.  Additionally, it would be tempting to say that they, as a group, are leaning towards historical amnesia to all the bad things they did for much of the first half of the 20th century.

As evidence you have the increasing right tilt of their current majority government- the LDP, anti-Korean protests in Tokyo’s Koreatown, Neo-Nazism, sanitation of their history text books, etc.  There is even the apparent white washing of their Imperial war past by renowned animator and film maker Hayao Miyazaki.

Could it mean there is a tilt in Japanese politics and society to forget the unsavory things they did during the Showa Era?  Worse still, could it mean that Japan is reversing itself to adopt a greater military stance against its neighbors?

Perhaps, but this isn’t the whole story.  Anti-Korean protests are met by large (sometimes largeranti-racism or pro-Korean protests and groups of Koreans and Japanese band together to clean up anti-Korean graffiti.

Then there is this:

(Photo credit: War is Boring, via Drawn and Quarterly)

Above is a sample from Shigeru Mizuki‘s recent manga, “Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan.”  For those of you who don’t know, Mizuki, age 92, is one of Japan’s premiere manga cartoonists, particularly horror genres,  and a veteran of World War II.  His recent manga on the Showa Era shows remarkable honesty to the brutality of Japan’s Imperialistic policies, particularly against the Chinese and Koreans.  Excellent post over at War is Boring offers a good summary.

Could there be a conflict brewing in Japanese society?  One that is battling for Japan’s soul?

Norihiro Kato, professor of modern Japanese literature at Wasada University, has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times on the subject, where he argues that Hello Kitty is a symbol of Japanese denial of their war time atrocities, Godzilla is a symbol of Japan’s sense of victimhood and unresolved pain of losing World War II.  The over “cutification” of their popular culture a result of Japan’s inability to properly face-up and resolve their history.

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

Korean drama about aliens, love and fried chicken big in China

Yep.  That’s the unlikely premise of “My Love From the Star.”  Strange plot aside, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the lovely Jun Ji-hyun is staring.

A pretty good performer in Korea, with an average ratings of 22.6%, it is apparently at least as popular, and probably a good deal more popular, in China.  In one of the episodes, Jun Ji-hyun’s character apparently has a love for fried chicken and this has lead to mobs of Chinese to form enormous lines at Korean fried chicken places.

It isn’t just food where hilarity has ensued.  In a recent Washington Post article, it would appear that Chinese government officials are talking about the drama as well and bemoaning the fact that Korea’s drama making skills are so much better than theirs:

“Well aware of the craze the drama has created in China, one committee of China’s political advisory body (called the CPPCC) spent a whole morning bemoaning why China can’t make a show as good and as big of a hit.”

Ah, a proud moment for kimchi-cheerleaders?  Maybe not.  What Wang Qishan, head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and perhaps one of China’s top seven Communist Party leaders, said about the issue may be rather unsettling, if you are Korean:

“The core and soul of the Korean opera is a distillation of traditional Chinese culture,” Wang said. “It just propagates traditional Chinese culture in the form of a TV drama.”

I get it.  At the end of the day everything in Asia ultimately belongs to China!  I love how he turned that around.  Bravo, bravo.  Very smart Mr. Wang.  Very smart indeed.

UPDATE:

Here’s more on Wang Qishan and Korean dramas and a fuller version of his “quote”:

Wang then attributed Korean telenovelas’ success to their “Chinese spirit”.

“Sometimes I watch Korean dramas on and off. After watching for a long time, I realised I understood why Korean dramas are ahead of ours,” said Wang, who is known for a keen interest in popular culture.

“I’ve been wondering why Korean dramas have [invaded] China. How can they cross the ocean and influence the US and even Europe? In the past few years, they have come out with a Gangnam Style.

“The core and spirit of Korean dramas is the exact sublimation of Chinese traditional culture,” Wang was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “They use TV dramas to disseminate Chinese traditional culture.”

He is apparently also a fan of NetFlix’s House of Cards and has a bit of a reputation as an anti-corruption “tsar.”

This has caused buzz among  Chinese news sources who are trying to interpret what Wang is saying.  A Sina.com editorial thinks Wang is directly criticizing Chinese cultural officials.  The Zhengzhou Evening Post blamed China’s backward cultural bureaucracy and censorship for the failure.  Some media outlets believed Wang’s remarks were meant to encourage government officials to be open-minded and engage more actively with the young online community.

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.

A Vacuum Denied – The Continuing Unholy Brotherhood of the DPRK – PRC Alliance

DPRK_prisonersThe U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has refered the DPRK (North Korea) to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), this after a U.N. report was released that gives detailed evidence of Crimes against humanity in the DPRK. UN Investigators state that “North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities”. (link) Here are some media links to articles regarding the report (The Atlantic) (Business Insider).  As per the UN Commission on Human Rights response to this report:

. . . Australian Michael Kirby, the commission’s chairman, penned a letter to Kim dated Jan. 21 warning that the report would call for a referral to the ICC “to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity,” as found in the yearlong investigation. When asked how many North Korean officials may have committed the crimes against humanity, Kirby told reporters in Geneva Monday that the number “would be running into hundreds,” without naming specific names. (link)

Despite this recommendation to prosecute DPRK leadership for crimes that are similar to what occured in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied territory during WWII, The PRC has come out as being opposed to such action:

. . . Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, called the report “unreasonable criticism,” raising questions as to whether Beijing will use its United Nations Security Council veto power to block any action on the matter.
“We believe that politicizing human rights issues is not conducive toward improving a country’s human rights,” Ms. Hua said. “We believe that taking human rights issues to the International Criminal Court is not helpful to improving a country’s human rights situation.” (link)

Of course, the main long-term supporter for the DPRK is China and the PRC has had its own problems with human rights issues and has, in turn drawn justifiable criticism for its unwillingness to acknowledge the criminal acts against humanity that have occurred in the DPRK.  As per the UN panel that was charged with reviewing the evidence against the DPRK, they find that China has been an enabler in this affair as well:

. . . Despite the gross human rights violations awaiting repatriated persons, China pursues a rigorous policy of forcibly repatriating citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who cross the border illegally. China does so in pursuance of its view that these persons are economic (and illegal) migrants, however, many such nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should be recognized as refugees fleeing persecution or refugees sur place. They are thereby entitled to international protection. In forcibly returning nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China also violates its obligation to respect the principle of non-refoulement under international refugee and human rights law. In some cases, Chinese officials also appear to provide information on those apprehended to their counterparts in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. . . (link)

Naturally, since the PRC is a member of the UN’s Security Council, they can veto any attempt by the UN to take action against the documented crimes committed by DPRK leadership.  Despite China’s rejection of the UN panel’s report and the recommendation to prosecute DPRK leadership, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) supports and welcomes the UN panel’s report, exemplifying the stark difference in politics and ethics that separates both China and North Korea from the rest of the world community.

A direct link to the UN panel’s report is here, complete with disturbing drawings made by a former North Korean prisoner.  They do remind one of the Nazi Death camps.

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.

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