You know that the situation with NK can’t be that bad when SK still finds time to fight over Dokdo: english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2013/04/0…
— Michael 마익흘 Aronson (@hdefined) April 5, 2013
See? Nothing to worry about.
In what the KT bills as the first part of a series highlighting Park Geun-hye’s options on dealing with the US, Jane Han has a lengthy interview with Daegu University Japanese studies professor Choi Jang-geun. He feels winning over the Americans on Dokdo should be priority one due to the “underlying probability” that the U.S. will side with Japan because the American imperialist past prevents them from understanding Korea’s position.
Korea and the U.S. have a different perception of territory. Unlike Korea, the U.S. does not have a perception of inherent territory,’’ explained Choi. “As we all know, today’s U.S. was once a land that was owned and occupied by Native Americans. The land was taken through a process of imperialist territorial invasion.”
Yah, I can see the incoming President Park floating that diplomatic language out there on her first visit to Washington. Might as well lecture Obama on the injustice of slavery as well.
Choi has a couple other notable quotes you can read on your own.
Not everyone is happy, though:
Publishing ads that claim Korea’s territorial rights can only give the outside world the impression that the islets are being disputed by the two nations, an impression that Tokyo seeks to create.
“The attitude that the territorial issue should be resolved via advertisements is amateurish,” said Kim Hyun-soo, a professor at Inha University Law School. “The East Sea naming is an issue with no practical benefit that entirely relates to Koreans’ resentment toward Japan’s imperialism. So it is okay to approach it in terms of public opinion like publishing ads.”
“But regarding Dokdo it is different. Seo and Kim are actually helping the Japanese in turning the area into a disputed one. They have contributed a lot in doing this.”
BTW, the National Post recently ran a piece on the island known widely among American school children as “America’s Dokdo,” the Machias Seal Island. illegally occupied by Canada since, well, forever. Stephen R. Kelly, a professor of “Canadian studies” at Duke, even penned an op-ed on this outrage for the New York Times:
The United States and Canada settled all their other maritime differences in the Gulf of Maine in 1984 by submitting their claims to the International Court of Justice for arbitration. They could have included the gray zone in that case, but did not. The Canadians had refused an earlier American arbitration proposal by saying their case was so strong that agreeing to arbitration would bring their title into question.
This attitude calls for re-examination. The fact that so little in the way of resources appears to be at stake, far from justifying the status quo, should be the main reason for resolving the issue. And for those concerned about blowback from “giving away” territory, letting the international court decide the case provides the most political cover.
As China and Japan can attest, border disputes do not go away; they fester. And when other factors push them back to the surface — the discovery of valuable resources, an assertion of national pride, a mishap at sea — the stakes can suddenly rise to a point where easy solutions become impossible.
Before that happens, we should put this last land dispute behind us, and earn our reputation for running the longest peaceful border in the world.
As I’ve point out before, Canada is sort of the Japan of the New World, with territorial disputes with virtually all its neighbors… which means the United States and Denmark.
The Marmot’s Hole: Leading the struggle against Canuckistani imperialism, since 2003.
Note to Korean courts: I wouldn’t expect Japanese courts to be especially cooperative in the future if you can’t even bring yourself to extradite a serial arsonist:
A South Korean court sided with China on Thursday in a fight between Beijing and Tokyo over the custody of a Chinese man accused of an arson attack at the Yasukuni Shrine for Japan’s war dead.
The man, Liu Qiang, 38, completed a 10-month prison term in South Korea in November after hurling four gasoline bombs at the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul. His attack in January last year left burn marks on the embassy wall but hurt no one.
Mr. Liu had told South Korean police that his late maternal grandmother, a Korean, was one of Asia’s “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery for Japan’s Imperial Army during World War II. He said that he attacked the Japanese Embassy to show his anger at Tokyo’s refusal to apologize and compensate properly for the wrongs done against the women.
Korean prosecutors—who, after all, had once mulled seeking the extradition of the asshat who defaced the Comfort Woman memorial in Seoul—had sought to extradite Liu to Japan, much to their credit. Seoul High Court, however, saw things differently. Very differently:
“We cannot approve the extradition of Liu to Japan because his crime was a political crime,” the court said in a statement yesterday. “In other words, Liu committed a crime with the aim to protest against [Japan’s] political order. And in a case where a political criminal makes an escape to another country [Korea], the criminal can be protected.”
Don’t be surprised if Japanese rightwing nutjobs start showing up to lob firebombs at the Comfort Women museum, then running back to Japan where the courts will protect them against punishment for their “political act.”
China’s also pleased:
Tokyo requested Seoul hand over Liu after he is released based on a bilateral treaty signed in 2002 regarding criminal transfers, while Beijing appealed to Seoul that Liu be sent back home based on a “humanitarian approach.”
It also requested that Korea consider Liu a political prisoner – saying his crimes were a political reaction to Japan’s misdeeds.
To be fair, if there’s a country that would recognize a political prisoner when it saw one, it’s China.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Shinmun ran some interesting poll data on Korea—Japan relations, collected in conjunction with Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun. For starters, only 23.6% of Koreans felt a sense of closeness to Japan, while 50.1% of Japanese felt a sense of closeness to Korea. Both numbers have come down a few percentage points since a 2005 poll.
Younger Koreans and younger Japanese felt closer to one another’s countries than did older Koreans and Japanese. Slight more Korean women than men felt a sense of closeness for Japan (24.2% to 22.9%), while in Japan, many more women than men felt a sense of closeness to Korea (55.8% to 44.1%).
Interestingly, only 37% of Koreans said Korea needs Japan, while 52.6% of Japanese said Japan needs Korea. In 2005, 53.5% of Koreans said Korea needs Japan, while the Japanese number fell of by less than 2 percentage points.
Meanwhile, nine out of 10 Koreans thought Japan doesn’t reflect on its past, while 63.4% of Japanese can’t understand why Koreans think Japan doesn’t apologize for its past.
77.1% of Koreans think the Japanese government should back down on its claims to Dokdo, while 47.0% of Japanese think the problem should be solved at the ICJ, and 37.4% think both countries should exercise joint sovereignty over the islets.
Finally, only 8.7% of Koreans and 14.6% of Japanese through bilateral ties were improving; 74.3% and 68.7%, respectively, thought they were deteriorating. This was a huge drop-off from 2005, when 44.1% of Koreans and 51.2% of Japanese thought ties were improving.
So writes MIT associate professor M. Taylor Fravel in the WSJ. To sum up, China is most likely to use force when it’s in a position of relative weakness, and when it own no piece of the territory it claims. Kind of like the Senkakus:
To start, China has usually only used force in territorial disputes with its most militarily capable neighbors. These include wars or major clashes with India, Russia and Vietnam (several times), as well as crises involving Taiwan. These states have had the greatest ability to check China’s territorial ambitions. In disputes with weaker states, such as Mongolia or Nepal, Beijing has eschewed force because it could negotiate from a position of strength. Japan is now China’s most powerful maritime neighbor, with a modern navy and a large coast guard.
China has also used force most frequently in disputes over offshore islands such as the Senkakus. Along its land border, China has used force only in about one-fifth of 16 disputes. By contrast, China has used force in half of its four island disputes. Islands are seen as possessing much more strategic, military and economic value because they influence sea-lane security and may hold vast stocks of hydrocarbons and fish.
In addition, China has mostly used force to strengthen its position in disputes where it has occupied little or none of the land that it claims. In 1988, for example, China clashed with Vietnam as it occupied six coral reefs that are part of the Spratly Islands. China had claimed sovereignty over the Spratlys for decades—but had not controlled any part of them before this occupation.
Sadly, there’s another destabilizing factor out there, too. And one of its names is Dokdo:
The final destabilizing factor in the Senkaku standoff is that both sides are simultaneously engaged in other island disputes. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak recently broke with tradition and became the first Seoul leader to visit the disputed Dokdo (Takeshima) Islands, which are occupied by the Koreans but also claimed by Japan. Meanwhile, China has been dueling with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Tokyo and Beijing may both conclude that whoever prevails in the Senkakus will have a better chance at prevailing in these other disputes.
On a related note, Japan wants to develop its own amphibious assault capabilities, a.k.a., marines, a push that has not gone unnoticed in the press over here. Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that Korea was willing to sell the Japanese the tools to do it.
According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, the government has decided to rename Dongdo “Usanbong” and Seodo “Daehanbong,” and use the new names starting Monday in the country’s official maps, textbooks and Internet portals.
I don’t know if any consideration was given to English-speaking audiences, but switching from “Dongdo” to “Usanbong?” Good choice.
And names with “bong” in them will likely appeal to young Westerners.
According to the Chosun Ilbo’s New York correspondent, tensions are flaring between the Korean consulate in New York and the Korea Society over Dokdo.
On Sept 14, the consulate apparently gave the Korea Society headquarters in New York about 100 copies of a promotional brochure on Dokdo produced by the Foreign Ministry, asking the Korea Society to distribute them in several places. As of Sept 22, however, those pamphlets were being left untouched at the Korea Society office.
A Korean consulate official told the Chosun Ilbo that it appeared there was some discord within the Korea Society over the pamphlets. The Chosun Ilbo says a Korean employee of the Korea Society placed the pamphlets on a table next to the office entrance so that visitors could take a copy. When Korea Society president Mark Minton found out about this, however, he strongly berated the employee.
Or so said the Chosun Ilbo. Or so the Chosun Ilbo said somebody said.
Minton reportedly said something to the effect of, “We’re an American non-profit organization, not an agent of the Korean government. There is no reason to just transfer Korean government propaganda.” Minton was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul from 2003 to 2005. Interestingly enough, he was also ambassador to Mongolia from 2006 to 2009. A note, though—I don’t believe his nose is nearly as pointed as the Chosun’s cartoonist makes it out to be.
Korea Society vice president Daniel Levine told the Chosun Ilbo on Sept 20 that the Korea Society was considering possibly distributing the pamphlets in an appropriate place, but that afternoon, the Korea Society told the consulate that the removal of the pamphlets happened while the office was being put in order, not for political reasons.
The Korea Society works to promote mutual understanding and cooperating between the peoples of Korea and the United States. The Chosun Ilbo notes is gets over 60% of its annual US$3.7 million operating costs from Korean businesses. Of the 10 businesses and groups that have given US$100,000 or more to the Korea Society, nine were Korean companies, including Samsung, Hyundai Motor, the Korea Foundation, SK, POSCO and others.
I’m guess what the Chosun is really trying to say is “We want our money to talk. Show us the Dokdo!”
Lest we forget—actually, I’m reading this for the first time—the Korea Society once tried to hang up in the office of former President Evans Revere an ornamented map of Northeast Asia with the East Sea marked as the “Sea of Japan.” According to the Chosun, Revere refused to remove the map—a gift from a Japanese acquaintance—despite a request from the consulate.
Despite a request from the consulate! What a cheek!
Can’t really blame Revere here, though. The Japanese are just sneaky that way—-one minute they’re slipping you gold-encrusted maps marked the Sea of Japan, the next they’re sinking the US Pacific Fleet.
(HT to Mulboyne)
In an editorial today, Ye Olde Chosun warns that if China isn’t careful, it could provoke its threatened neighbors into forming an anti-Chinese coalition.
Oh, and we really need to build that naval base in Jeju. Oddly enough, the Dong-A Ilbo penned an editorial about the Jeju base, noting that while Park supports it, Moon Jae-in opposes it and Ahn Chul-soo isn’t very clear about whether he supports it or not.
Nothing on Ieodo on the Hani’s editorial page, but on the front page of their online edition, they’re reporting they’ve got evidence of mines in the area where the Cheonan sunk. Don’t stop believin’, guys.
The New York Times casts doubts on the usefulness of the PLAN’s newest toy:
American military planners have played down the significance of the commissioning of the carrier. Some Navy officials have even said they would encourage China to move ahead with building its own aircraft carrier and the ships to accompany it, because it would be a waste of money.
Other military experts outside China have agreed with that assessment.
“The fact is the aircraft carrier is useless for the Chinese Navy,” You Ji, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore, said in an interview. “If it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China’s neighbors, it’s a sign of bullying.”
Vietnam, a neighbor with whom China has fought wars, operates land-based Russian Su-30 aircraft that could pose a threat to the aircraft carrier, Mr. You said. “In the South China Sea, if the carrier is damaged by the Vietnamese, it’s a huge loss of face,” he said. “It’s not worth it.”
I agree almost completely with that assessment. I say almost because while it’s certainly true China would be seen as a “bully” if it used its carrier against a neighbor, I’ve yet to see anything from Beijing that suggests they’d give a shit. If anything, it seems they’ve embraced the role of regional meathead, and I’d expect nothing less than to wake up one day with the Liaoning off Ieodo.
A Korean army colonel tells the Chosun Ilbo the real reason Japan is claiming Dokdo is to focus attention away from Daemado (a.k.a. Tsushima Island) and the maritime border in the Korea Strait.
Said colonel has been claiming Daemado as Korean territory since 2008.
Clearly upset with China and Japan hogging all the attention, Pyongyang is doing its best to raise tensions at sea, too.
The Hanguk Ilbo reports that North Korean fishing boats have violated the NLL seven times since Sept 12. And according to one military official, the fishing boats are carrying North Korean soldiers.
One recent incident prompted ROK Navy patrol boats to fire warning shots, and an F-15K was sortied.
– Ye Old Chosun, quoting Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, is reporting that Korea is refusing to allow a Japan MSDF warship to touch at Busan during upcoming PSI drills hosted by Korea.
The Korean side cites “various circumstances” for the refusal.
When the Japanese side suggested it might be unable to take part in the drill, the United States changed the drill scenario so that the Japanese ship wouldn’t have to touch at Busan.
The drills, featuring warships and planes from the United States, Australia, Korea and Japan, will take place in international waters about 100km off Busan.
The Japanese side also feels the Koreans are objecting to the ships flying the Japanese naval ensign, which is the “Rising Sun” flag.
The Korean Defense Ministry, for its part, hasn’t mentioned anything about denying the Japanese ship entry into Busan.
– YTN is reporting that during talks in New York, the foreign ministers of Korea and China agreed to cooperate in challenging Japan’s historical views.
With Japanese Prime Minister Noda planning to talk about the need to resolve territorial issues through international law in his address to the UN General Assembly, Korea and China agreed the international community should first understand history properly. Or as Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan put it, “It’s an issue related to our history. And this is why Seoul and Beijing have agreed on the need to tell the world the truth about history.” Which sounds to me a lot like Korea taking China’s side in the Senkaku dispute. Which is odd, considering.
– Korea and China, however, have their own issues. Ye Olde Chosun is reporting that China is placing Ieodo under regular aerial surveillance:
China is claiming once again that the submerged rocks of Ieo Island are part of its own territory and included them among places to be monitored by aerial drones. The move came six months after Liu Xigui, the director of China’s State Oceanic Administration, said Beijing would now regularly patrol Chinese waters using both ships and surveillance aircraft.
The Korean side, for its part, plans to respond to Chinese survey ships with Korean Coast Guard cutters, and Chinese warships with ROK Navy warships. Yesterday, the Korea Coast Guard commissioned a 3,000-ton Coast Guard cutter that will be deployed to Jeju-do to patrol the waters around Ieodo.
PS: The Chosun Ilbo is still unhappy with the missile situation. Despite a bilateral agreement with the United States that would allow Korea to expand its missile ranges to 800km, the Chosun wants to know why it’s only South Korea being tied down with these agreements while China, Russia, North Korea and Japan can seemingly build whatever the hell they like. Ye Olde Chosun warns that keeping Korea from obtaining a minimum capacity to defend itself not only threatens the balance in Northeast Asia, but also doesn’t help in maintaining or developing the Korea—US alliance.
No argument from me.
Look, personally, I find some some of the stuff coming out of the mouths of certain Japanese politicians offensive. But really, do signs like this help?
And if you really must produce signs like that, at leave be clever about it and do it in a language Westerners (mostly) can’t read. Like these (presumably) employees of an Audi dealership in China, who posted on their shop a banner that read, “Even if all of China becomes a tomb, we must kill all the Japanese” and “Even if not a single blade of grass grows in China, we must recover the Diaoyu Islands.” On its Japanese site, Audi apologized for the incident, saying the sign had been taken down immediately and that it was unconfirmed whether the people involved were Audi employees.
The government is reportedly pushing a plan to build an airport on Ulleungdo.
I’ll say that again—the government is reportedly pushing a plan to build an airport on Ulleungdo.
Capable of handling 50-seat planes, the airport would enable travelers to get from Gimpo to Ulleungdo in just an hour, and more importantly, allow you to get to Dokdo in about two hours.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs and the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do are apparently keen on the project. A government official told the Munhwa Ilbo that even if its economic feasibility ain’t great, an airport would be good in terms of policy analysis (read: keeping the Japanese away from Dokdo) and balanced regional development.
The plan is reportedly undergoing a feasibility study. If it passes, the new airport would be begin handling traffic from 2017.
Korean Wikipedia tells us the government has been playing with the idea of building an airport on Ulleungdo for some time. A 1,500m runway would not only be able to handle passenger planes like Bombardier Q300 or the ATR 42, but also turn Ulleungdo into an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” capable of handling P-3Cs, F-5s, T-50s and C-130s… just in case the Japanese got squirrely.
What I haven’t been able to figure out is where the hell you can build an airport on Ulleungdo—the only flat land on the island is at the bottom of a volcanic caldera.
Written by Takashi Yokota, Newsweek’s Tokyo correspondent and editor of the magazine’s Japanese edition, the piece is being criticized for, well, read the comments (or the Chosun Ilbo story lived above).
Interestingly enough, Newsweek’s Seoul correspondent B.J. Lee told the Chosun he neither received instructions from Newsweek regarding the story nor was involved in its writing. I’d be keen to see him write a response, though, because IMHO, this stinker really needs one.
Heck, if he can’t, I’d be happy to write one.
Japan should bet Tsushima on its bid for Dokdo, a senior Korean diplomat said Monday. The island of Tsushima is the closest Japanese territory to the Korean Peninsula, lying approximately 50km from Busan. Dokdo is a group of small islets in the East Sea.
“If Japan lodges a protest with Korea over Dokdo, it should bet Tsushima,” the diplomat, Chang Dong-hee, said in a radio program.
Oh, and Cheong Wa Dae is returning a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Noda criticizing President Lee’s visit to Dokdo.
Seoul’s Foreign Ministry yesterday strongly protested Tokyo’s proposal to take the issue of Dokdo to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by issuing an official commentary, calling Japan’s proposal “not worth attention.”
“Dokdo is clearly part of Korean territory historically, geographically and under international law, and no territorial dispute exists,” said Cho Tai-young, spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “The Japanese government’s proposal to take the Dokdo issue before the ICJ is not worth attention.”
Cho added, “The Korean government will take stern measures against any provocations made by Japan over Dokdo,” but did not elaborate on what actions Korea would take.
It’s my understanding that Japan would likely respond similarly to a Chinese/Taiwanese proposal to bring the Senkaku dispute/non-dispute to the ICJ, but it’s also my understanding that China is very reluctant to bring third parties like the ICJ into its territorial disputes. I can’t find much on Chinese views of the ICJ on the Interweb, so I’d appreciate comments from folk who know more about this.
The handling of the “Olympic Dokdo Sign Incident” has now reached a new level of farce.
Korean Football Association chief Cho Chung-yun apologized before the National Assembly on Friday for sending an apologetic letter to the head of the Japan Football Association for Park Jong-woo’s “Dokdo Ceremony”:
During a question-and-answer session of the National Assembly’s committee on culture and sports, Cho Chung-yun, head of the Korea Football Association (KFA), apologized for a controversial letter sent by the KFA to the Japan Football Association (JFA).
The letter, written in English, was sent Monday, days after Korea’s Park Jong-woo, in celebrating his team’s 2-0 victory over Japan in the bronze medal match in London, carried around a sign that read in Korean, “Dokdo Is Our Territory.” The letter came under fire for its apologetic tone and for the KFA’s apparent acknowledgment of Park’s wrongdoing.
“I’d like to sincerely apologize for the trouble this letter has caused,” Cho told lawmakers. “When the situation demands, then I can take the responsibility.”
According to the Korea Times, critics contend that “the KFA admitted Park had engaged in inappropriate behavior before any official ruling from either FIFA or the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”
Judging from USFK’s recent apologies, I’d thought that’s how things are supposed to be done over here, but I guess not.
Anyway, the JoongAng Ilbo got a hold of the “shocking” email and posted it to their website. It’s just barely legible, but if you look closely at your monitor, you can make it out. Ordinarily, I’d say aside from the fact Cho should have had it copy-edited before clicking “send,” I can’t see anything wrong with Cho’s letter. It’s the sort of boilerplate apology you’d be expected to send after an incident like this.
If anything, Cho understated things by denying Park’s act was political, when anyone who’s not intentionally bullshitting him or herself knows it was.
I said “ordinarily,” however, because sadly, I know exactly what the problem with Cho’s letter is. I’m pretty sure the higher-ups at the Korean Olympic Committee, Korea Football Association and elsewhere know perfectly well that Park’s “Dokdo ceremony” was unacceptable and inexcusable. You don’t need an IOC judgement to apologize in this case—Park’s act speaks for itself. The problem is, public sentiment regarding, well, most things Japan-related is so poisonous, officials can’t do what needs to be done—at least publicly—even in such an obvious situation like this. Sure, given Japan’s history of forced, half-ass apologizes for things much worse than waving a Dokdo sign, there’s probably some degree of karma to that, but I can’t see how it helps, either with Japan or, in this case, with the greater international community.