Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Japanese Prime Minister Apologizes for the Colonial Rule

First, the news:
Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan offered a renewed apology to South Korea on Tuesday for Japan’s brutal colonial rule, as part of a statement marking the 100th anniversary of his nation’s prewar annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

For the enormous damage and suffering caused during this colonial rule, I would like to express once again our deep remorse and heartfelt apology,” Mr. Kan said in a statement, issued ahead of the Aug. 29 centenary of Japan’s annexation of Korea. The text largely repeated language Japan has used since the early 1990s in apologies to South Korea and other Asian victims of its early-20th-century military expansion.

...

In a sign of the difficulties this nation still faces in holding a healthy debate about the repugnant periods of its history, the prime minister’s statement on the colonial era drew sharp criticism from conservatives. Tabloid newspapers blasted the apology as “treasonous diplomacy,” while right wing groups loudly protested in front of the prime minister’s residence in central Tokyo.

In Tuesday’s statement, Mr. Kan offered to return historical documents and other cultural artifacts taken from the Korean Peninsula during Japan’s 1910-45 rule. Mr. Kan said he wanted to address the past in order to build a more forward-looking relationship with South Korea, a country with which Japan now enjoys extensive trade, cultural and political ties and whose music and television shows it avidly consumes.
Japan Apologizes to South Korea on Colonization [New York Times]

The Korean applauds Japan for taking a step in the right direction, but is disappointed that it is only a step and not a stride like it should have been, on the year as significant as the century mark of the occupation. Most Koreans appears to have reacted the same way as the Korean did -- they have seen this show before, and there is not too much to get excited over.

It is commendable that this round of apology was not just words, but came with some level of specific actions. Returning documents and artifacts is a pretty solid move, and a step forward from the 1993 apology which ultimately did not amount to much more than mere words. But at the 100-year mark, something much more significant needed to happen. And it is not as if what Japan does not know what it needs to do. It needs to clearly address the big historical issues -- such as the annexation's illegality, comfort women, remaining territorial disputes, discrimination against Korean-Japanese, whitewashing its textbooks, and attempts to revise and glorify its imperialistic past (e.g. by attending the Yasukuni Shrine.) At the very least, it could have revisited the crass decision earlier in this year to pay 99 yen (about $1) to compensate Korean forced laborers. But none of this happened.

In this respect, the Joint Statement of Scholars issued by scholars from both Japan and Korea was much more honest and courageous, since it challenged Japan’s current interpretation of history. It clearly stated that the Annexation Treaty was illegal and invalid from the start, contrary to the official position of the Japanese government. In contrast, this round of apology by Prime Minister Kan implies nothing about the change in the official position. So, regardless of the apology, the emperor of Korea in 1910 voluntarily handed over his country without any coercion (like invading his palace and killing his wife, the queen) as far as the Japanese government is concerned. Reflecting this unchanged position, even the stolen documents and artifacts are not "returned" (反換) to Korea but are "conveyed" (おわたし) to Korea, lest the word should suggest that Japan was not entitled to take the documents and artifacts in the first place.

The Korean, personally, sympathizes with Prime Minister Kan. He believes that Kan did the best he could under the given circumstances of his domestic politics. In fact, the Korean believes that Koreans would be better served to recognize the segment of Japanese population that is honest and forthright about their past, instead of crudely hurling invectives wholesale whenever the historical issues arise, as some Koreans are wont to do. If Koreans give credit to whom credit is due, it would encourage those Japanese to continue their endeavor and move farther along in persuading the Japanese public at large. In that spirit, the Korean would like to recognize that Prime Minister Kan, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Senkoku were particularly brave to persevere and do the right thing.

But the fact that this was the best that Prime Minister Kan could do serves as an indictment on Japan as a whole. At the end of the day, the Japanese government is unable to make a truly meaningful apology and reparation because the Japanese people, as a whole, do not think their country did anything wrong. Indeed, certain segment of Japanese people are all too happy to brand the apology (which does not really change much of the status quo) as "treason," because they genuinely believe that Japan did Korea a favor by annexing it and Prime Minister Kan is apologizing over nothing. This is simply a stunning case of willful historical blindness.

This is why the Korean is not confident that this apology will have a positive impact that will last, even though he believes that the heart of Prime Minister Kan and many Japanese people is at the right place. Because of the considerable portion (if not the majority) of Japanese population that does not think the Imperial Japan did anything wrong in the early 20th century, sooner or later another thing will arise in Japan which will surely make a mockery of any contrition shown in this apology -- like the insulting payment of 99 yen to former forced laborers. That is a pity, and unbecoming of a great nation like Japan.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

84 comments:

  1. Good analysis. I've always felt that it's unfair to consider all Japanese virulent racists unrepentant for Japan's actions pre-1945, considering just how many of them don't think like that. However, the actions of Japanese society are the actions of Japanese society, and the criticism is more than deserved. I can't think of any other developed, industrialized nation that is so hesitant to acknowledge a mistake.

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  2. Korean.

    This 'apology' is bollocks, firstly have they changed the textbooks back to acknowledge these attrocities or are they giving them lip service?

    Ok so I'm not exactly whiter than white since the Chinese have fucked over Korea for the past 1000 years (no you can't have Goreyo back either =) But then again the CCP does not exactly reflect the views of TCG or many Chinese people either. But strangely the CCP HAVE apologised for 30% of Mao's political decisions.

    TCG's cynicism detects it is more to do with the fact that the Japanese economy is like the US economy utterly fucked. Thus the Japanese would sorely like to be like Korea and export to the only country in the region with any money. I.e. China.

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  3. I totally agree with you. Many people do not want to recognise that although there are kind-hearted japanese whom possess a correct historical view, the sad reality is that the majority of the general japanese population either do not believe, or are pressured into not expressing their support or atonement of WW2 and Imperial Japan's wrongdoings. Japan is a democracy, how else could you explain it?

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  4. Of course the apology is "Bollocks". Nothing Japan can say or give to present day Korea could ever "make up" for what they did. I'm actually suprised THE KOREAN and Koreans in general expect anything different. THE KOREAN seems like a damn bright fellow. Law firm and blue pin-stripped suit. He must be well aware that throughout world history and even prior to, man has been killing man, trying to take his land, etc. This is human evolutionary behavior 101. Events like these were a dime a dozen prior to the 1800's. The Japanese were a much more advanced nation at the time. They took advantage of this opportunity.

    During the "fuedal days" in Korean history, Korean tribes weren't dominating other Korean tribes in much the same fashion? Did Korea not try to launch a massive invasion of Japan at one point? As I recall, the invasion was haulted, due a massive tsunami. Is this account accurate? I smell hypocrisy. If the roles were reversed, the Korean government would act in the same manner. Koreans are just as racist, egomaniacal and self-cantered.

    I like "The Koreans" blog. It gives useful information to those who are living or plan to spend some time in the Hermit Kingdom. In my opinion, "The Koreans" bias has gotten the better of him. Korea took an ass kicking 100 years ago and Koreans don't like it!! Understandable.

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  5. Critical hat on.

    Shit happens in history (Btw I think you are talking about 1274 Mongol invasion of Japan)

    The point of this is that WWII attrocities, like using Anthorax on Chinese civilians, comfort houses (sex slaves). Many of the victims are still alive today. Many of the purps who did this are also alive today.

    When making revisionista history it is important that nobody can contradict you. I.e. you make revisionista history AFTER all those who can contradict you are dead.

    So while they change their textbooks there are credible people who say. It fuckin' didn't happen like that!

    Compared to say the Goreyo and China debate where China annexed the region over centuries. When the PRC makes its revisionist history. Korean folks make a lot of noise. But they can't find somebody to attest in person about the annexation can they which blunts their arguement significantly even if it does have merit.

    While Qin Shi Huang may have hunted down my ancestors 2210 years ago. There is a huge degree of separation.

    While the attrocities of WWII are in very close proximity. Older members of my own family were first hand witnesses to the nasty shit that occured in the battle of Hong Kong. This is the crux of it.

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  6. Zilchy,

    throughout world history and even prior to, man has been killing man, trying to take his land, etc. This is human evolutionary behavior 101.

    So there is nothing wrong with invading a weaker country and killing hundreds of thousands in the process?

    Did Korea not try to launch a massive invasion of Japan at one point?

    No. That was the Mongolians, who at that point were occupying Korea.

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  7. For all the historical animosity that Koreans harbor against the Japanese (an maybe vice-versa) the two countries are now close allies. I've traveled throughout China and Japan, and I feel much more culturally in tuned with the Japanese than the Chinese. I'm by no means a Japanese colonial apologist but the occupation ended over 60 years ago. The Korea and Japan of today need to work together to counter the very real threat of Chinese dominance of the Asian continent.

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  8. It still appears that Japan got a long way to go to join the rank as a great nation.

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  9. The Korean asks - "So there is nothing wrong with invading a weaker country and killing hundreds of thousands in the process?"

    Sure it's wrong circa 2010 in todays "politically correct", "first world" collection of nations. I highly doubt that throughout the millenia, groups of people were invading other peoples, killing, taking land, raping and pillaging only to later apologize and say, "Oh, were sorry for what we did. Here's your stone porridge bowls back".

    A lot has changed throughout human history, especially over the last 100+ years. The one thing that will never change is the "cro-magnon", primal elements of the human brain.

    Again, there is NOTHING that can change or compensate for the fact that many Asian people suffered in many ways at the hands of the Japanese. What is an apology really going to accomplish? They have already apologised in the past. Do the Koreans want an apology every year until the end of time? What will War reparations in regard to the "comfort women" stiuation accomplish? Will it re-install the virginity of those women who gave "comfort"? Rid their shame?

    I honestly have a real problem with money as a form of compensation in almost all situations. Especially the Korean idea of "blood money". It's shallow and has no place in a supposed "first world country" who's aspiration is to become a legitimate democracy.

    I can't help but wonder if the Japanese outright feel the need to "save face" in the east Asian tradition. "Sweep it under the rug". Ignore the realities and lie in the hopes that it just goes away.

    The Korean writes - "That was the Mongolians, who at that point were occupying Korea."

    Whether it was the Mongolians or not, the majority of present day Koreans are in fact descendants of the Mongols. As I understand it, there are very few aboriginal "Koreans" in the "pure-blooded" mix. Do you have a blue-dotted birth mark on your body? On your lower back perhaps? If Koreans expect the Japanese to take responsibility for their forefather's actions, the Koreans should take responsibility for their forefather's actions.

    Aside from the topic at hand, congratulations on the nuptuals. I wish you and the "Mongol Misses" all the best. NY Times, it's a good start.

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  10. Have we (Koreans) not heard this before? How many times and/or ways do we have to hear these same rhetoric from Japan's head of state for us to feel vindicated? Every decade, centennial years, or during soccer friendlies??? When is it ever enough and/or appropriate.

    The Prime Minister can apologize to Korea for their heinous crimes committed 100 years ago, but on the schools and streets of Japan their is absolutely no remorse towards Koreans by Japanese. The reason for the in-congruency is because on the streets and schools of Japan they are taught contrasting side of the story. For example, I had a Japanese friend in college who was a exchange student that told me Japan had to invade Hawaii because USA would have cut off the supply of oil that was essential to Japan, which is completely different than what Koreans and Americans are taught in school about the war.

    For someone like myself who maintains current affairs of Korea on a daily basis, I really wasn't shocked nor happy when I heard about the apology from Japan's PM. I presume my feelings were pretty much the same on the streets of Seoul, as well.

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  11. Zilchy,

    Thanks for the kind words. The Korean thinks your position speaks for itself, so he will not address it further. Just a couple of small points:

    - What you call "blood money" (money paid in reparation for a crime) is not a Korean concept. (In fact, the term "blood money" is not even used among Koreans.) It is a concept present in the civil law, i.e. laws of the continental Europe. Every civil law country -- France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, etc., etc. -- has the same concept.

    - Mongolian fleck has nothing to do with actual Mongolians. The Korean previously wrote about it here. Korean babies had Mongolian flecks before and after the Mongolian invasion.

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  12. Sorry about the previous deleted posts. I did not intentionally delete them. Something is going on with my computer. It's not behaving. Who knows what's going to happen next!!



    The Chinese guy writes - "The point of this is that WWII attrocities, like using Anthorax on Chinese civilians, comfort houses (sex slaves). Many of the victims are still alive today. Many of the purps who did this are also alive today."

    Understood! I just don't see how punishing a WW2 purp (who is today mighty close to 90 years old) changes much. Yes, if you catch a purp shortly after a crime, their punishment is worthy. What's the point in jailing or executing a severely elderly person. Too much time has passed. The purp has little time to languish or reflect in his punishment. Same with the victums. They have been suffering for 60+ years. I just don't see any real justice in both cases with the amount of time that has passed.

    The Chinese guy states - "When making revisionista history it is important that nobody can contradict you. I.e. you make revisionista history AFTER all those who can contradict you are dead."

    Who's to say that those who are able to contradict in rev. history are correct? I'm not trying to play devil's advocate here, and I don't want to come across as a antagonistic ass (maybe a little), but how do present day citizens of any nation know what their forefather's societies, mindsets and place in the world really was. It's easy to make judgements 100 years later. The Monday morning quarterback syndrom.

    To me, there seems to be an aweful lot of room for error and bias. We can speculate as why this happened and that did not. Do we really understand the why's and Why not's?

    Since I'm on a roll (good or bad). I also have a problem with present day citizens having to be resposible for the forefather's actions. The reasons are described above. Especially in the 70 years that have past since WW2. In a lot of ways, two different worlds.

    Chinaman - "So while they change their textbooks there are credible people who say. It fuckin' didn't happen like that!"

    The notion of "credible" is just too vague. Again, above! Especially today in regard to WW2 events. How credible is a 80 year old person who was maybe 10 years old during the time in question. Sinility has already set in. Too much time has passed! Like a crime scene. The sooner you get the clues, the greater the accuracy and the increased chance of nabbing the crook.

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  13. "The Prime Minister can apologize to Korea for their heinous crimes committed 100 years ago, but on the schools and streets of Japan their is absolutely no remorse towards Koreans by Japanese. The reason for the in-congruency is because on the streets and schools of Japan they are taught contrasting side of the story. For example, I had a Japanese friend in college who was a exchange student that told me Japan had to invade Hawaii because USA would have cut off the supply of oil that was essential to Japan, which is completely different than what Koreans and Americans are taught in school about the war."

    Talk is cheap! The leaders of Japan can apologize all they want but unless they take actual steps in telling their own public what really went on, its just lip service.

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  14. Normally in debates about this very thing, I have a lot to say, but I'm tired, and nobody ever listens to me anyway. I'll of course try my best. For a little background, I've lived for a long time in Japan and Korea and I am almost fluent in both languages (I say almost because I'm far from perfect in either language.)

    1. Yes, The Korean is right, this alone, (or the past apologies made by other politicians.) isn't enough. Nothing will ever be enough to erase what Japan did. Just as nothing will erase the pain that the Jews suffered under Nazi German rule.

    The difference? Germany has taken steps in teaching their own people that what happened was wrong, and that German leadership at the time isn't something that should be emulated. Key members of the Nazi party were tried and sentenced as war criminals, and Germany today largely shows remorse for their role in the holocaust.

    It however goes both ways. The Jews by and large (if I am not mistaken) recognize that Germany has at least taken (some) proper steps in making sure that the holocaust and tragedies like it won't be repeated.


    2. The argument that Japanese Colonial rule was good for Korea has at least a shred of merit. It's very hard for me as a person of Korean descent to admit this, but from intensive study of the situation, Korea would not be what it is today had the Japanese never taken over it. I'm sure all those familiar with the subject can agree with me.

    That said, a common Japan apologist argument is that if Japan didn't take Korea, Russia or someone else would have. This, while true, doesn't make it right.

    Look a this analogy. There's guy passed out drunk on the street with his wallet in his hand. You can easily take it. If you don't take it, you figure it is very likely that someone else will. So if you take it, does that make it right?

    That aside, anyone who thinks that the Japanese colonial era didn't help Korea in any way whatsoever is deluding themselves.

    3. Japan is not a democracy. How can one political party hold power for so long in a democracy? Japan's political organization is such that the rural areas have more representation than the cities do. This makes the majority of the government representatives conservatives, even though they seldom have the popular vote. The Prime Minister is also not elected by the people. He's elected by the Diet (Japanese version of Congress).

    It would be like in 1994 when the Republicans took over the house and senate in the U.S., they removed Bill Clinton from the presidency and appointed Trent Lott president.

    Therefore, the Japanese government does not carry out the will of the majority of its people.

    Most Japanese in my generation and younger have a favorable view of Korea, and would be all for an official government sanctioned apology with real policy change at all levels of government. The crusty old cons who hold all the power (Japan had its baby boom generation too, followed by declining birth rate), don't want it. When they die, I am confident that more strides will be made.

    4. Unlike Korea, not all Japanese schools use the exact same textbooks. Therefore, whenever there is a textbook in the news that distorts history, PLEASE KNOW that 100% of all Japanese students aren't using that book. Most of the super right wing books, while approved by the Ministry of Education, aren't widely used.

    There's a lot of infighting in Japanese education about stances to take on history, the display of the Japanese flag, the use of the National Anthem, etc...

    I worked in a Japanese high school and the right wing principal was constantly at odds with the liberal teachers (70% of them) who refused to sing the national anthem at school graduations and um... 入学式,(입학식, Entering the school ceremony, for lack of a better translation.)

    Japanese people don't blindly follow the government line.

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  15. Part of Japan’s white washing of history is lack of truth acknowledged by the Japan’s public. Lack of truth in school and public lead to newer generation of Japanese knowing nothing of sins of previous generation. Japan has never gone through self critical assessment of their sins like Germans in the 1950 and 1960. Even younger generation that was not involved in the Holocaust, German’s felt the burden of their father’s sins…Only now, generation that has only known unified Germany, that sense of sins seems alien.

    Bottom line, any apology from Japanese politician is pretty much meaningless at this point. Much of Japanese public only knows popular propaganda. Only historians and interested seems to know the truth. Newer generation has no guilt and feels no guilt. And why should they?

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  16. Soul Searcher, "The argument that Japanese Colonial rule was good for Korea has at least a shred of merit. It's very hard for me as a person of Korean descent to admit this, but from intensive study of the situation, Korea would not be what it is today had the Japanese never taken over it. I'm sure all those familiar with the subject can agree with me.

    That said, a common Japan apologist argument is that if Japan didn't take Korea, Russia or someone else would have. This, while true, doesn't make it right.

    Look a this analogy. There's guy passed out drunk on the street with his wallet in his hand. You can easily take it. If you don't take it, you figure it is very likely that someone else will. So if you take it, does that make it right?

    That aside, anyone who thinks that the Japanese colonial era didn't help Korea in any way whatsoever is deluding themselves"

    How did Japanese colonization help Korea? If you're going to argue that the destruction of Korea infrastructure led to advanced development of roads, etc??? Is this your argument? Are you serious? Its an economic fallacy. I have no idea where you got these ideas; wherever you got it from, please provide some evidence to back your assertions.

    If your argument holds valid, why arent so many African countries still very underdeveloped. After all, most of African countries were colonized by Europeans at some point or anotherin history. All right, fine, lets stick to Asia. What about India and Pakistan? Surely, they should be developed because British colonized them for hundreds of years. But these countries are still poor. Why?

    My point being is that the rapid development of Korea had absolutely nothing to do with colonization of Japan. I would even differ to say that Japan's invasion of Korea put us back a few years because of how they treated Korea as their "dump ground", and basically took everything they can find useful in Korea.

    FXXX Japan. They can go to hell!!

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  17. This is a topic that kinda annoys me.

    I have the feeling that whatever Japan does it will never be enough to some people (and by "some people" I mean a lot of Koreans and Chinese).
    Yes Japan has done terrible things to those two countries (and a few more) but nothing can be done TODAY to fix those things. Yes, things should have been done right after WW2, starting with beheading Hirohito (yeah, I know, they hang people in Japan, but I personally prefer beheading kings and emperors), but TODAY, this is simply too late. All of the actors of those atrocities are dead, and people alive today just don't feel concerned nor responsible, as they shouldn't, I don't believe in carrying the burden of one's ancestors faults.

    Yes, Japan should have taken a path similar to Germany after WW2 and it didn't, not because of Japan, but because of McArthur and the US. Right or wrong, they thought that doing the same thing in Japan would create an unsolvable situation of constant uprising, revolt and resistance (and ultimately war) in the country (in other terms a East Asia Afghanistan).
    But luckily, the US didn't do everything wrong, and the new constitution created a modern Japan the rest of Asia and the world didn't have much to be afraid of (what is Japan today in international politics?)

    So I think that the only solution to solve this matter today is simply to "get over it." Japan will never do what it should do (What should it do?) to make Korea or China happy over this matter, Koreans and Chinese people just need to get over it, stop looking at the past and try to build a better and more friendly future for the region (but I suspect that they're not interested in that for other reasons).

    Coming myself from a country that has its share of wrongdoings, colonizations and invasions of other countries (France), I don't see why I, today, should apologize for Napoleon's invasion of Europe or for the colonization of not one but a few dozens countries. What is done is done, the only thing one can do is to not do it again.
    And if I took the example of Napoleon, it's because in France there never was a self-reflection about his invasions and mistreatment of other countries, to the point that a bunch of French people still consider him as the greatest man in France's history (personally, I think he was a draft for Hitler). But that doesn't prevent French people from not being like him nowadays.
    So yeah, Hirohito is not considered as the war criminal he should be, the Yasukuni shrine is a popular destination place, but those are details. Nowadays most Japanese people either know their country has done bad things to their neighbors but they don't think that they can nor should do anything about it (just the same nobody should ever expect from me an apology for what my country did to Europe -Napoleon- Africa and more -colonization- or the Jews -collaboration with the Nazis-, I'm not my country, even less my country in the past), or don't really know, nor care, but in the end it doesn't matter, what matters is that today's Japan will never do such atrocities again in the foreseeable future (for this I'd look towards China actually).

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  18. I don't think Zilchy gets it.

    The Korean mentioned that past apologies are half assed and explained why. Zilchy seems to think an apology is an apology.

    I was born with a blue butt - every KOREAN knows that, I'm guessing Zilchy is definitely not Korean?

    Invading and taking over someone's land and spreading your culture is one thing, raping, killing, and treating them inhumanely is another.

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  19. I suppose that outside looking in, this topic is annoying. It is easy to look at it and think, well the Japanese will probably never do enough and the Koreans will never be happy. Things happen like this all the time in history, and things would just be better if they did just get over it. But I'm sure it is different from the inside.

    It is one thing about things that happen centuries past. They can be used to drum up sentiments. But when you can actually talk to people that went through it things are different. I could say there are two histories, the history you can read about in the books, and the history that you live through. Even though many may not have lived through that period, but growing up with people speaking of their memories is going to sink in deeper.

    It wasn't your grandmother that was raped in her house. It wasn't your uncle that watched a household of people murdered, while he hid. I don't know if it would be so easy to get over that.

    So I guess an apology is better than nothing, so that is worth more than someone never acknowledging nothing was wrong. I'm sure more could be done. Full payback may never come. From the outside as annoying as this situation seems, I am at least glad to see this dance. Its better than at least the Post WWI dance France and Germany played.

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  20. "The Korean mentioned that past apologies are half assed and explained why. Zilchy seems to think an apology is an apology."

    No, an apology is truly an apology if the "apologer" believes in the sincerity of said apology and the apology has some relevance.

    In this particular case, as many have said, too much time has passed, the current Japanese society is far removed from the years in question and we as current citizens of any particular nation, should not be held accountable for our forefather's actions. I absolutely agree with these assessments.

    For these reasons stated above, Any contemporary apology from the Japanese in regard to this subject is EMPTY.


    "I was born with a blue butt - every KOREAN knows that, I'm guessing Zilchy is definitely not Korean?"

    Correct, I was born with a white butt. So that clearly makes me a non-Korean. I like my white butt. It has a nice round shape.

    "Invading and taking over someone's land and spreading your culture is one thing, raping, killing, and treating them inhumanely is another."

    These two ideas usually go hand in hand. Prior to the 1800's they were consistantly one hand. Human nature, young Jedi!!

    I'm not trying to make light of this topic. I can only imagine what it must have been like at that time. The same can be said for your "blue ass" and any other of the multiple colors discussing this topic.

    "The Korean" has every right to state his opinion on this subject. I respect his opinion, as I respect all the opinions given. I for one have learned quite a bit on this subject, given my "white assed" handi-cap.

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  21. - The blue birthmark is a Mongolian trait but it is not a exclusively Mongolian trait. Various ethnicities have it all over the world.
    - When Koreans descended from Mongolians, Monglians would not have been Mongolians back then. You could just as easily say Mongolians descended from Koreans.
    - One of the reasons we should chase this issue is there are still people who suffered under Japan still living TODAY in Korea. There are still people who commited these crimes still living TODAY in Japan. Germany is chasing Nazis even TODAY who are on their deathbeds.
    - Saying Japanese occupation was good for Korea is like saying cancer is better than Aids. It is meaningless. And what industry Japan built up on the peninsula was all destroyed during the Korean War.

    On topic, I feel that this Japanese apology is sincere and a great effort by Kan given the dangerous domestic political climate.

    The trouble is, not all Japanese feel this way and even after every apology, there are still many issues unresolved.

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  22. Seung Min states - "One of the reasons we should chase this issue is there are still people who suffered under Japan still living TODAY in Korea. There are still people who commited these crimes still living TODAY in Japan. Germany is chasing Nazis even TODAY who are on their deathbeds."

    Fair enough, but you don't state the reasons why "we" should chase this issue. What do you feel it is going to accomplish?

    In my mind, the relevance has lost it's flair. Catching the criminals at this point in history would just be symbolic. Almost zero punishment for the purpetrators and those that suffered will alway's suffer. This type of suffering can not be undone. Those who suffered in these two events have those memories burned into their brains.

    In contrast, The Nazi's that were executed (or committed suicide) at the time of the Nuremburg trials is an example of pure justice. Evidence was fresh, eye witnesses to events, fresh. History books weren't even written in regard to this event, thus no dilution or warping of the actual events.

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  23. In contrast, The Nazi's that were executed (or committed suicide) at the time of the Nuremburg trials is an example of pure justice.

    But the Korean thought that your position was: There is nothing wrong with invading a weaker country and killing hundreds of thousands in the process, because the primal elements of human brain never change. Under that logic, the Nazis did what the primal elements of their brains told them to do. How was justice served by Nuremburg?

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  24. Korean (Mongol)(Hangook),

    First, I know you're not blind to some of the basic realities of human nature. Especially violence, greed and sex in all their different forms. These are the driving forces for most of a human beings actions. They are realities today as they were since day one. Most would agree they are part of the primative brain and they will never change. How we control them does change, thus the evolved part of the brain (cerebral cortex). I know you know this. No big secrets here.

    I did not say there was nothing wrong with invading a weaker country, etc.. What I did state was that what is considered right and wrong changes with time in any particular group of people. Especially first world, ever-evolving societies.

    Yes, the Nazi and Japanese actions were considered brutal and wrong by 1940's era standards and would be today. These events would be commonplace in the 1740's and earlier and most people probably wouldn't bat an eyelash at similar atrocious events.

    If the Nazis and the Japanese absolutely believed in what they were doing and believed their actions were in no way wrong, then no "justice" can truly be found with regard to this subject.

    Belief and intent can be extremely powerful and deadly. Muslim suicide bombers being a prime example. How can any external body punish this idea? Acquire justice?

    So, trials and punishments for those responsible for the atrocities in Germany, is this best justice that an "external legal body" can hope for. Because, as time passes, bringing those responsible to justice and punishing them, loses it flair and relevance.

    I honestly do not know if those Japanese who were responsible for their actions were examined by an Asian tribunal or any other external body and sentenced etc. Again, in my opinion, if this did happen, then that's the best "justice" the Koreans and other Asian nations who suffered can hope for. If it didn't, too much time has passed and for the most part, it has lost it's relevance.

    It's the element of time that I feel is important. For the Korean people to continue to want an apology from the Japanese after 60+ years has passed has losts it merit. Same with the "Nazi hunters". If I was a Nazi criminal, 80+ years old, bones aching, wearing a diaper, I would be begging for the gas chamber. Hell, a firing squad would be a treat!

    Side story (relevant) - I am currently living in your native land. About 2 years ago, when I was living as an American, I had a brief discussion with an elderly lady who was well into her 80"s. She told me she couldn't wait to die because she felt like a dinosaur. She said she can not comprehend the values of the younger generation of American kids and what she sees around her is completely foriegn.

    The reason I shared this with you is because I believe it's absolutely true. The Japanese society by large is almost completely disconnected from the Japan of the 1920's, as are the German's and especially the Korean people. I believe Korea was tied with Afghanastan as one of the countries with the lowest GDP's in the world, circa 1949. Now, 60 years later, Korea is somewhere near the 15th largest economy in the world. If some of your grandparents are alive and living in Korea, their heads must be spinning at what they are seeing today.

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  25. You raise valid points Zilchy, but these philosophical arguments tackle the very fundamentals of ethics and values.

    I feel it may be out of place to tackle specific issues with these and instead should be about the system as a whole and how we decide rights and wrongs on a grander scale rather than one right/wrong.

    Under the system we have compromised for practicality of real life, I believe it is right to seek some sort of justice. Not through apology after apology but through actions.

    Just like we moved on from hunting/gathering onto farming and now foraying into animal rights, we should move on from simple fighting and taking and into a consensus of justice.

    (Name change from Seungmin)

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  26. Simon(Seungmin),

    What do you believe is the "consensus" of justice" for most or all first world countries?

    Is "justice" the sentence itself, a punishent "equal" to the crime committed?

    Is "justice" the acknowledgement of wrong doing, remorse and rehabilition of those who committed a crime?

    The belief and hope that both these ideas are satisfied?

    I believe there are just too many variables in any one situation and a "consensus" will never satisfy every particular group. The "group" refering to a particular people or country.

    I believe this topic to be extremely complex. Very interesting. It's difficult for me to form a coherent composition as I have all these ideas floating in my mellon. Maybe I'm making it more difficult than it really this.

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  27. Your past is important because it makes you who you are today. Korean history makes Korea what it is today. Obviously, Korean history goes far beyond Japanese occupation. So I'd be pretty angry if a country tried to erase the identity of my country and keep what represents my country as theirs even today.
    You wouldn't understand of course, The Chinese guy, since your country have been the one taking other countries' items for the past 100 years. (Tibet, Uighur, etc). Almost everything on this topic can only be biased. Including most of what you've said.

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  28. To Miguk Chonhnum "How did Japanese colonization help Korea?"

    I have to assume you aren't familiar with history or pre-colonial Korea, but if you are, then forgive me.

    Before I explain I feel it's necessary to say that I am in no way condoning Japan's colonization of Korea. It was wrong.

    You mentioned in your retort that Japan destroyed Korean infrastructure. Actually the truth is quite the opposite, Japan BUILT Korean infrastructure. Granted, it was infrastructure that served Japanese purposes, but it was there nonetheless.

    Practically every major railroad, bridge, road, school, post office, hospital, and police station in Korea that was built before 1950 was made by the Japanese.

    Your counter examples of African and Asian countries being colonized by European countries is irrelevant for 2 major reasons.

    1. In most cases, the colonies are resource rich countries that the imperialists wished to exploit. Korea has no resources. The purpose of Korea in the Japanese empire was to serve as a bridge to China, the real prize Japan was after.

    2. In most cases you listed, there is a distinct racial difference between the countries and their colonial masters. That is to say under conventional thinking of the time, that people from those colonies would always be seperate from the people from the imperialist country. Koreans and Japanese do have racial differences, but not nearly as much so. (It's quite possible that a Korean fluent in Japanese would be mistaken as Japanese by Japanese, for example.)

    That is to say that the colonial relationship between Korea and Japan is very different than the relationship between say, India and Great Britain. Great Britain basically went in, conquered, took what they wanted, and relegated the locals as second class citizens.

    Japan on the other hand went into Korea with the aim of incorporating it into Japan proper, even to the point of suggesting that Koreans and Japanese were the same people historically, then later taking the measures to erase Korea's distinct culture so that future generations of Koreans would actually consider themselves to be Japanese(Which I agree is pretty terrible). If Japan had somehow won WW2 and continued to rule Korea today, since we are several generations removed from that time, it's very possible that Japan would have succeeded, and Koreans themselves would simply think of themselves as Japanese (thank god this isn't the case).

    People of course will disagree with what I say and reply that Japan did treat Koreans as second class citizens. The only thing I can say to that is that this is because Koreans had not yet been successfully brainwashed into believing themselves to be Japanese yet, so it's unrealistic to expect standard equal treatment when the population itself doesn't consider itself a part of the larger whole. When Koreans lose their sense of nationhood and consider themselves Japanese, and Japanese consider them Japanese, then the equal rights would come naturally.

    More retort will probably come from people who want to point out the situation with Zainichi, but that's also irrelevant because Zainichi are specifically not Japanese, that's why they are Zainichi. If they naturalize then all the legal forms of discrimination vanish.

    Repeating again, I am in no way condoning ANY of Japan's actions regarding the colonial era. Please don't think I am a Japan apologist.

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  29. Seungmin

    "Saying Japanese occupation was good for Korea is like saying cancer is better than Aids. It is meaningless. And what industry Japan built up on the peninsula was all destroyed during the Korean War."

    No, I'd have to disagree with that. It'd be more like saying getting beaten up by your brother is better than getting beaten up by street thugs, which actually isn't totally meaningless if you think about it.

    Your second point is pretty valid. A lot of the industry that Japan built was destroyed in the Korean War. It's however much easier to repair or rebuild the industry (as North and South Korea both did after the war) when the people have already been living in an industrialized country than it would have been to just build it from scratch.

    I'm in no way saying that Japan is directly responsible for the rapid economic growth that South Korea underwent post war. I'm only saying that the seeds of industrialization were planted in the colonial era.

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  30. Seoul Searcher said:
    > Korea has no resources.

    Incorrect. Agricultural products and human labor count as resources. So does land. Not to mention the timber, coal, and ore Japan extracted as well. Japan's practical goal was exploitation, not development. That is indisputable.


    > When Koreans lose their sense of nationhood and consider themselves Japanese, and Japanese consider them Japanese, then the equal rights would come naturally.

    The problem with that proposition is that the Japanese have never considered minorities (read: non-pure-blooded-Japanese) as "properly" Japanese, even those born as citizens. Even in contemporary Japan enforceable civic equality is not a settled issue. Japan has no federal civil rights oversight and there is a long, rich history of continued discrimination against Ainu, Burakumin, Ryukyuans, as well as naturalized Kakyo and Zainichi Koreans.


    > I'm only saying that the seeds of industrialization were planted in the colonial era.

    Those seeds never germinated. The infrastructure built by Japan in Korea had two goals: 1) to integrate Korean production and economy into Japan; 2) to facilitate the movement of military personnel and resources. And nearly all of infrastructure used for those purposes was destroyed or rendered unusable by 1953. Authentic Korean industrialization did not occur until the 1960s.

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  31. The argument that Japanese Colonial rule was good for Korea has at least a shred of merit.

    Sure, but no more than a shred -- like the way a kidnapper who feeds his hostage is good/better for the hostage, compared to a kidnapper who does not. But at no point should it be obscured that kidnapping itself was wrong.

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  32. @Chrissy, I am glad someone is giving me a logical rather than emotional response.

    Chrissy said:

    >Incorrect. Agricultural products >and human labor count as
    >Japan's practical goal was >exploitation, not development. >That is indisputable.

    Actually it was development with exploitation of those "resources" in mind. When I said Korea has no resources, I meant in the same sense that China, India, or the U.S. does in response to someone's comparison of the colonial relationship between Korea and Japan with Britain and her colonies. I think you'll agree that these are fundamentally different.

    >The problem with that proposition is that the Japanese have never considered minorities (read: non-pure-blooded-Japanese) as "properly" Japanese, even those born as citizens.

    And how many of those minorities that you have listed (with the exception of Burakumin) have fully submitted to the idea that they are Japanese and nothing else?

    I hear you, one of the things that I constantly hated about living in Japan was the idea of what pure Japanese is, and even instances where soccer players for the Japanese National Team (Like Alessandro Santos) were considered "gaijin" by spectators frustrated me beyond belief.

    In every other racial group you listed, there is a distinctive culture that goes with it, with elements inside suggesting that the people aren't Japanese. My statement before suggested that if Japan had succeeded in brainwashing ALL KOREANS that they were Japanese (and somehow brainwashing Japanese of the same thing) then there'd be equal rights, certainly at least under the law.



    > I'm only saying that the seeds of industrialization were planted in the colonial era.

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  33. “I'm only saying that the seeds of industrialization were planted in the colonial era.”

    This is utter crap. What seeds of industrialization are you talking about? Can give concrete examples? Goal of colonization is for exploitation only for benefit of Japan. Building few roads does not equal “seeds of industrialization.”

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  34. More @Chrissy
    >Those seeds never germinated. The infrastructure built by Japan in Korea had two goals: 1) to integrate Korean production and economy into Japan; 2) to facilitate the movement of military personnel and resources. And nearly all of infrastructure used for those purposes was destroyed or rendered unusable by 1953. Authentic Korean industrialization did not occur until the 1960s.

    Yes, a lot of physical infrastructure was destroyed in the Korean War. But is it easier to repair a broken railroad or build a new one? Is it easier to implement a postal service when one already existed or start a new one from scratch? Is it easier to reorganize schools and an educational system or to start these up from scratch? Many of the seeds didn't germinate. I'm not denying that.

    Korean industrialization is largely due to the effort and sacrifice of Koreans, I will never deny this. However, even this industrialization used Japan as a model. You'll even in some cases find that Korea continued certain practices and policies started by the Japanese that the Japanese themselves did away with.

    Some of the seeds germinated.

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  35. The Korean Said:

    >Sure, but no more than a shred -- like the way a kidnapper who feeds his hostage is good/better for the hostage, compared to a kidnapper who does not. But at no point should it be obscured that kidnapping itself was wrong.

    I don't think I was ever suggesting that the colonization of Korea wasn't wrong, but I think the shred is a little bit more than kidnapper/hostage example.

    It's like if someone forcibly removes you from your straw hut, builds a house for himself and lets you be his domestic servant, living in a tiny room in the house.

    Arguably your standard of living in the house as his servant is better than when you were living free in the straw hut.

    Does it make it right that he did that? Not at all.

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  36. I don't think I was ever suggesting that the colonization of Korea wasn't wrong[.]

    You were not. The Korean was only trying to put your point in proper perspective.

    It's like if someone forcibly removes you from your straw hut, builds a house for himself and lets you be his domestic servant, living in a tiny room in the house. Arguably your standard of living in the house as his servant is better than when you were living free in the straw hut.

    It is false to assume that the person in the straw hut would not have built a house on his own. There are plenty of indications that, left to their own devices, Koreans would have industrialized on their own. But we will never know what would have been, because Japan robbed Korea of its self-determination.

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  37. It is false to assume that the person in the straw hut would not have built a house on his own. There are plenty of indications that, left to their own devices, Koreans would have industrialized on their own. But we will never know what would have been, because Japan robbed Korea of its self-determination.

    Absolutely it's wrong to assume that Korea wouldn't have industrialized on its own. But I think we can agree that it probably occurred a lot faster under Japanese rule than it would have had King Kojong and the Korean Empire been left to their own devices.

    But you're right, I guess we'll never know.

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  38. @Norman Texan
    This is utter crap. What seeds of industrialization are you talking about? Can give concrete examples?

    Well how much time do you have? For a short list with examples I can name off the back of my head:

    1. Public Education
    2. Most existing Railroad Lines
    3. Roads.
    4. Postal Service
    5. Police and Fire Departments
    6. Broadcast Media
    7. Electricity outside of Seoul
    8. President Park Chung Hee, aka Takagi Masao, who is indisputably the architect of Korean industrialization is very much a product of the Colonial Era.

    I could go on into specific details of each one but I don't think I need to.

    With that said, I still feel I have to qualify my statement a bit, and say that some of the above, Korea already had, but all of the above was altered or reorganized or created by Japan. I don't think in any way what Japan did was right, and I understand opposing arguments suggesting that few benefit can be attributed to the Japanese due to the Korean War.

    Goal of colonization is for exploitation only for benefit of Japan.

    Of course! I never said that there was any other purpose. What happens when you remove Japan out of the equation though?


    Building few roads does not equal “seeds of industrialization.”

    As you can see from above, the Japanese built a whole lot more than a few roads.

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  39. Seoul Searcher said:
    > When I said Korea has no resources, I meant in the same sense that China, India, or the U.S. does in response to someone's comparison of the colonial relationship between Korea and Japan with Britain and her colonies.

    In what sense do you mean? How are human capital and natural resources different between locations? By degree? The capricious nature of state borders has no regard for the geographic residence of resources. Moreover, the absolute quantity or resource taken is not as important as to what end they were purposed. The nature of the British relationship with India and Japan with Korea was, at heart, the same - exploitative.


    > ...(with the exception of Burakumin)... In every other racial group you listed, there is a distinctive culture that goes with it, with elements inside suggesting that the people aren't Japanese.

    The Burakumin are not the exception, they are the rule. Their history in Japanese society suggests they have always gone out of their way to be as unobtrusive as possible until only recently. Japanese society made an issue of Burakumin identity long before the Burakumin did. If a historical sub-culture based on occupational specialization cannot pass in Japan the brainwashing scenario you presented seems improbable. Cultural distinctiveness is not what characterizes the Japanese national response to the presence of minorities within the nation. Rather, it is the dogmatic ideology of homogeneity and its role in dis-empowering groups or individuals who can't get with the program. Sufficient variation within "pure" Japanese populations is sufficient that regionalism and sub-cultures are still factors in politics, economics, and even individual interactions. The use of a majority assimilation identity versus problematic minority identities is an emblematic cart-before-the-horse scenario of the power disparities pushed in purportedly homogeneous societies. States which refuse to acknowledge their multi-ethnic/religious/social variation only exacerbate that trend.


    > But is it easier to repair a broken railroad or build a new one?

    Incomparable. Certain infrastructures cannot simply be "fixed" in the way that only the most very basic mechanical parts can be fabricated and replaced when worn or defective. In many cases repairing infrastructure is synonymous with building it anew. By your analogy nurses are somehow qualified to rebuild hospitals and issue medical degrees if someone were to destroy their place of occupation. Besides that point, all indications are that a numerically inconsequential minority of Koreans were even involved in the management of those infrastructures.


    > Arguably your standard of living in the house as his servant is better than when you were living free in the straw hut.

    This scenario imposes an arbitrary set of criteria for evaluating quality of life that takes precedence over self-determination. Brick houses are not manifestly better than straw houses unless you account for subjective criteria. There are many contexts in which a straw hut might be environmentally or behaviorally advantageous compared to the ostensibly objective standard of brick houses. The same argument can be made for any such objective standard. Taking someone from their straw hut and putting them in a brick house eliminates their self-determination, which incidentally happens to be one of the most important psychological quality of life indicators. Not all people want the same things and even when they do they want them on their own terms.


    > The argument that Japanese Colonial rule was good for Korea has at least a shred of merit.

    Colonization and the paternalistic development rhetoric which attends it does less to improve peoples' lives than it does to irreparably alter them. The absolute best that can be said of Japan's colonization of Korea is that it changed the country. Nothing more.

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  40. "Well how much time do you have? For a short list with examples I can name off the back of my head:

    1. Public Education
    2. Most existing Railroad Lines
    3. Roads
    4. Postal Service
    5. Police and Fire Departments
    6. Broadcast Media
    7. Electricity outside of Seoul
    8. President Park Chung Hee"

    Seoul Searcher,

    You seemed to think Koreans were some nomads or Bedouins who were absolutely incapable advancement.

    For example, police and fire departments? WTH.. What are you talking about? Why would creating a police and fire department be considered advancement? Rule of law is an western concept of thought, not eastern. Moreover, I would like for you to provide some evidence to validate your assertions.

    Also, why would you think Japan's colonization of Korea led a rapid advancement? These points are -- for lack of a better word -- LAME.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Seoul Searcher said:
    > However, even this industrialization used Japan as a model.
    > For a short list with examples I can name off the back of my head...

    The problem with this position is that Japanese modernization was based on existing non-Japanese models. It would be more accurate to say that the industrialization of Korea used European and American models by way of Japan. Even then they didn't need Japan's intervention to acquire those models.

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  42. Seoul Searcher said:
    > When I said Korea has no resources, I meant in the same sense that China, India, or the U.S. does in response to someone's comparison of the colonial relationship between Korea and Japan with Britain and her colonies.

    In what sense do you mean? How are human capital and natural resources different between locations? By degree? The capricious nature of state borders has no regard for the geographic residence of resources. Moreover, the absolute quantity or resource taken is not as important as to what end they were purposed. The nature of the British relationship with India and Japan with Korea was, at heart, the same - exploitative.


    > ...(with the exception of Burakumin)... In every other racial group you listed, there is a distinctive culture that goes with it, with elements inside suggesting that the people aren't Japanese.

    The Burakumin are not the exception, they are the rule. Their history in Japanese society suggests they have always gone out of their way to be as unobtrusive as possible until only recently. Japanese society made an issue of Burakumin identity long before the Burakumin did. If a historical sub-culture based on occupational specialization cannot pass in Japan the brainwashing scenario you presented seems improbable. Cultural distinctiveness is not what characterizes the Japanese national response to the presence of minorities within the nation. Rather, it is the dogmatic ideology of homogeneity and its role in dis-empowering groups or individuals who can't get with the program. Sufficient variation within "pure" Japanese populations is sufficient that regionalism and sub-cultures are still factors in politics, economics, and even individual interactions. The use of a majority assimilation identity versus problematic minority identities is an emblematic cart-before-the-horse scenario of the power disparities pushed in purportedly homogeneous societies. States which refuse to acknowledge their multi-ethnic/religious/social variation only exacerbate that trend.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Seoul Searcher said:
    > But is it easier to repair a broken railroad or build a new one?

    Incomparable. Certain infrastructures cannot simply be "fixed" in the way that only the most very basic mechanical parts can be fabricated and replaced when worn or defective. In many cases repairing infrastructure is synonymous with building it anew. By your analogy nurses are somehow qualified to rebuild hospitals and issue medical degrees if someone were to destroy their place of occupation. Besides that point, all indications are that a numerically inconsequential minority of Koreans were even involved in the management of those infrastructures.


    > Arguably your standard of living in the house as his servant is better than when you were living free in the straw hut.

    This scenario imposes an arbitrary set of criteria for evaluating quality of life that takes precedence over self-determination. Brick houses are not manifestly better than straw houses unless you account for subjective criteria. There are many contexts in which a straw hut might be environmentally or behaviorally advantageous compared to the ostensibly objective standard of brick houses. The same argument can be made for any such objective standard. Taking someone from their straw hut and putting them in a brick house eliminates their self-determination, which incidentally happens to be one of the most important psychological quality of life indicators. Not all people want the same things and even when they do they want them on their own terms.


    > The argument that Japanese Colonial rule was good for Korea has at least a shred of merit.

    Colonization and the paternalistic development rhetoric which attends it does less to improve peoples' lives than it does to irreparably alter them. The absolute best that can be said of Japan's colonization of Korea is that it changed the country. Nothing more.

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  44. @Chrissy

    It would be more accurate to say that the industrialization of Korea used European and American models by way of Japan.

    Fine, but then we're just arguing semantics.

    The nature of the British relationship with India and Japan with Korea was, at heart, the same - exploitative.

    Yes, that's true, and I've never denied that. But Japan didn't take Korea for it's natural resources (because there are relatively few), it took Korea as a bridge to China. Furthermore there is a drastic phenotypical difference between White English and Indians, thereby limiting (especially at those times) the social mobility of Indians in the British Empire. In contrast there is less phenotypical difference between Koreans and Japanese, and I argued that over time had Koreans been sucessfully brainwashed into believing they were Japanese, there might be more social mobility, but that's just speculation on my part.

    Re - your retort on Burakumin, I don't think I've ever said that Burakumin or any other minority group don't face challenges in Japanese society. I was talking about legal discrimination, in response to the idea that Koreans were "second class citizens". Such as.. this school is made for Japanese, this one is made for Koreans. If all Koreans think they are Japanese and vice versa then such divisions would be meaningless.

    While I appreciate your vast knowledge of minority groups in Japan, after living in Japan, I'd have to say that this kind of thought as to who was samurai and who was burakumin is largely disappearing, but I admit my perceptions might be wrong. I guess if we are talking about that specific point in time, (during the colonial period, in which at most 2 generations were born under it), then yes, Koreans were second class citizens of the Japanese Empire. Given time, I think this would cease to be the case, but I naturally can't prove it.

    Incomparable. Certain infrastructures cannot simply be "fixed" in the way that only the most very basic mechanical parts can be fabricated and replaced when worn or defective. In many cases repairing infrastructure is synonymous with building it anew. By your analogy nurses are somehow qualified to rebuild hospitals and issue medical degrees if someone were to destroy their place of occupation. Besides that point, all indications are that a numerically inconsequential minority of Koreans were even involved in the management of those infrastructures.

    Certainly a fair point. I was thinking specifically about destroyed railroads, where usually small sections of track or bridges are removed, leaving the majority of the railroad in tact, but unusable because the track doesn't connect.

    As for a bombed out hospital being rebuilt by nurses, sure, that's impossible. But after you do get the hospital building built, if there wasn't one before, where are you going to get the nurses to work there? You'd have to train them. And if there weren't any before, then who would train them?

    This scenario imposes an arbitrary set of criteria for evaluating quality of life that takes precedence over self-determination.

    Yes, it does. That's why the colonization was WRONG and IMMORAL!!! But when the dude gets kicked out, you have a house.

    The rest of your reply about why grass huts are better than houses in some cases only shows me that you enjoy arguing with me, I enjoy it too, so thanks, but if that's your position, then in regards to the analogy, you're saying it would be better that Korea hadn't industrialized at all, with or without Japanese intervention.

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  45. You seemed to think Koreans were some nomads or Bedouins who were absolutely incapable advancement. No I don't. I fully believe Korea would eventually have industrialized by itself. I just think that the Japanese intervention made it a lot faster.


    For example, police and fire departments? WTH.. What are you talking about? Why would creating a police and fire department be considered advancement?


    Would you like to live in a town without either?

    Moreover, I would like for you to provide some evidence to validate your assertions. What kind of evidence other than examples of things that the Japanese built are you looking for?

    Also, why would you think Japan's colonization of Korea led a rapid advancement?

    I answered the question already. Japan transformed Korea (albeit for her own purposes) into a modern society. The hard work that lead to the rapid advancement came from Koreans in the 1960's.

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  46. I feel justifing the Japanese occupation because it modernised/industrialised Korea is like justifing the Holocaust because it eliminated antisemitism and gave them Israel back.

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  47. Being beaten up by your brother/sister is worse than by a total stranger because as a member of your family, he/she is supposed to care.

    Yes there were certain ideologies which suggested Koreans and Japanese were close, related, one people and what not as well as the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but the reality is, Koreans were taken as slaves to the Japanese for sex, factories, mines and experiments.

    You fail to differentiate between damaged and destroyed. You also do not take into account progress of science and industry. Japan did help some Korean businesses get started through technology transfers and basic infrastructure but this was part of appeasement post-war.

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  48. @Simon
    I feel justifing the Japanese occupation because it modernised/industrialised Korea is like justifing the Holocaust because it eliminated antisemitism and gave them Israel back.

    I am not justifying anything, and this is precisely the problem I'm talking about. It's nearly impossible to say anything good about Japan amongst Koreans or those sympathetic to Korea. I never said Japan was justified in anything and have repeatedly condemned the Japanese Colonization of Korea, yet to many I might as well be a chinilpa, to the point that everything I say needs to be attacked, even at the expense of the arguement.

    TO ALL, ONCE AND FOR ALL. THE JAPANESE COLONIAL ERA WAS WRONG, BAD, IMMORAL, and SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED.



    but the reality is, Koreans were taken as slaves to the Japanese for sex, factories, mines and experiments.

    So were Japanese. Still doesn't make it right, but it's not like Japan was taking everyone in Korea and enslaving and raping them. Usually it was the poor and the rural, and Japanese themselves were included in this.

    eing beaten up by your brother/sister is worse than by a total stranger because as a member of your family, he/she is supposed to care.


    I disagree. I know my brother won't kill me or won't go too far. A total stranger has no obligation.

    I'll accept that it's probably a bad analogy. I like the grass hut/house one better.

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  49. It's nearly impossible to say anything good about Japan amongst Koreans or those sympathetic to Korea.

    That statement, standing alone, is not true. Koreans love Japanese things, including food, movies, cartoons, art and products. They also love visiting Japan.

    Probably what you meant to say is that it is nearly impossible to say anything good about Japan's imperial rule among Koreans. And that becomes a matter of perspective. Japan's war crimes were so egregious and damaging such that there is little point in talking about the good that came out of the Japanese rule.

    Similar example is slavery in America. Strictly speaking, slaves were conferred a benefit by being kidnapped en masse to America and condemned to backbreaking labor, rape and lynching -- a hundred or more so years later, they are a part of the strongest and wealthiest country in the world. But even with the strictest caveats applied ("I am NOT saying slavery was justified,") suggesting that there was something good about American slavery among the descendants of slaves would lead to a pretty quick social death. And there is nothing wrong with that. You complain about how this process happens "at the expense of the argument[,]" but the argument is not something that needs to be preserved at all costs at all times. There are more important things than that.

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  50. Well of course there are things that are more important to the argument, but this thread has devolved from primarily being about Japanese imperial rule over Korea, and how best Japan should make a meaningful apology for it. Now it has gone to question regarding how Japan helped industrialized Korea. For the most part that question is moot, but if the focus is on that, then yes objectively either it did or it didn't.

    The ethics of colonial rule do not have much to do with that objective point, although I would say the ethics of it would be a more important question. But The Seoul Searcher was challenged on it, so we keep talk about it, even though I don't think anyone here as disagreed with the immorality of the colonial rule.

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  51. @The Korean

    I'm sorry for devolving your thread.

    Probably what you meant to say is that it is nearly impossible to say anything good about Japan's imperial rule among Koreans.

    Thank you for at least understanding my sentiment, but I think it goes a bit broader than simply the imperial rule. It extends to things like the Japanese soccer team, the Japanese Baseball team, Japanese variations of Korean dishes (or the disparaging of Korean versions of Japanese dishes), simply trying to characterize Japan's argument on Dokdo without agreeing on it one way or another, but I'll accept that this sentiment comes precisely and directly as a result of Japan's imperial rule over Korea.

    Thanks for reading between the lines, TK.

    You're absolutely right when it comes to food, movies, cartoons, art and products and other things Japan makes. It's really funny to see Korean children shout at the top of their lungs that they hate Japan while wearing a Doraemon T-shirt and playing Nintendo.

    As for what I meant "at the expense of the argument". I mean't "at the expense of one's own argument." You can see in this very thread that someone is arguing about how grass huts are sometimes better than houses in reference to an analogy I made. In the analogy, the grass hut represents a country that hasn't been industrialized, while the house represents the industrialized country. But because of one sentence in my original post (which wasn't at all the focus of the larger post), I'm suddenly seen as the enemy by some people and everything I say needs to be challenged. But to challenge the analogy by saying that in some cases a grass hut is better, means that the person is arguing that Korea shouldn't have industrialized at all. I don't think that's the position of anyone here.

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  52. More @The Korean

    And on your final point about it being comparable to explaining to American blacks that they should be thankful for slavery, I can see why you would think that, but I don't agree with you totally, because slavery lasted hundreds of years and the colonial era lasted 36 years. Koreans under Japanese rule were second class citizens, but black slaves weren't even considered people. Koreans had their country taken from them, but continued to live in their country amongst each other, preserving their national identity. Black slaves were simply uprooted and had their cultural heritage and history stolen from them.

    Koreans got their country and self determination back. Black Americans didn't get their African heritages, languages, or status as the racial majority in the societies they were living in back.

    Black Americans still often suffer racial discrimination in the U.S. Koreans almost never suffer racial discrimination in Korea today.

    So my statement that "the argument that Japanese Colonial rule was good for Korea has at least a shred of merit." basically in essence means this:

    Korea in 1945 was more of a modern society than Korea in 1910 was.

    If we can agree that being "more modern" is good, then we all already agree with my original statement.

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  53. I'm sorry for devolving your thread.

    No worries. You know that the Korean clamps down on irrelevant comments rather quickly. This exchange is interesting, so it goes on.

    More to the point: the Korean does not think you understood his point about American slavery. His point is not that Korea under Japan's imperial rule was equivalent to African slaves in America. His point is that there are cases in which even a technically valid point is better off not made, given the overall context.

    And your point about Korea's modernization really amounts to no more than technicality. Sure, Korea of 1945 is more modern than Korea of 1910. That's obviously true, and no one can deny that. But so what? You already agree that imperial Japan's rule over Korea was egregious and damaging, and that Korea was entitled to self-determination. You also probably agree that this supposed benefit does not obigate Koreans to express gratitude to Japan, nor does it exonerate Japan from its numerous crimes.

    Once this context is established, the point about Korea's supposed modernization is better off not made. It tends to obscure the enormous culpability of imperial Japan by bringing up one of Japan apologists' favorite arguments, and only serves to piss people off in the process.

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  54. @Seoul Searcher

    I never inferred that you were arguing a positive moral position on the Japanese occupation of Korea. Nor was I suggesting Korea should not have modernized. The retort to your grass hut analogy was to make the point that Korea did not want, need, or benefit from inheriting Japan's "house".

    My point is that Japan's colonization was not a necessary precursor nor a lasting contributor to Korea's modernization. In fact, it derailed it. Your empirical claim that Japan contributed to Korean modernization is erroneous because it overstates their contributions as well as ignores their historical discontinuity. I'm not arguing with you but your revisionist claim. It's flat wrong. I'll cite directly from Haggard, Kang, and Moon (1997) in "Japanese Colonialism and Korean Development: A Critique" to illustrate why. (Emphases in original.)

    "First, serious questions remain about the economic record even at the time; there are, however, even stronger reasons to doubt that any Japanese contribution was an enduring one.

    "Second, the belief in the continuity of the Japanese colonial state exhibits a technocratic bias. It is not the bureaucracy which ultimately makes policy, but the political elites who control it.

    "Third, the extent to which either the origins of postwar Korean capital can be traced to Japanese involvement in Korea is questionable. ...much of the Japanese-financed capital stock was destroyed or depreciated during 1945-53 and had to be built anew. Nor is ther emuch evidence of continuity in the nature of business-government relations from the 1930s through the 1960s.

    "Finally, we are sympathetic with the claim that postwar Korean development rested on important social preconditions. With the exception of labor repression, however, these involved a reversal of the social legacies of Japanese colonialism, including increased attention to human capital and land reforms (Shin, 1977; Ahn, 1981). Both of these developments were crucially important for subsequent economic growth, but were only possible because of political independence from Japanese rule.

    "The Japanese system was an imperial one in which Japanese and Korean interests coincided neither in the short or long run. It is easy to concede that Korea was more developed in 1945 than it was in 1910, but is that comparison relevant? ...we do have good reasons to question the benefits of Japanese rule in Korea, including the superior performance of Taiwan during the same period and the even more overwhelming evidence of Korea's success as an independent country."

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  55. @Seoul Searcher

    I never inferred that you were arguing a positive moral position on the Japanese occupation of Korea. Nor was I suggesting Korea should not have modernized. The retort to your grass hut analogy was to make the point that Korea did not want, need, or benefit from inheriting Japan's "house".

    My point is that Japan's colonization was not a necessary precursor nor a lasting contributor to Korea's modernization. In fact, it derailed it. Your empirical claim that Japan contributed to Korean modernization is erroneous because it overstates their contributions as well as ignores their historical discontinuity. I'm not arguing with you but your revisionist claim. It's flat wrong. I'll cite directly from Haggard, Kang, and Moon (1997) in "Japanese Colonialism and Korean Development: A Critique" to illustrate why. (Emphases in original.)

    "First, serious questions remain about the economic record even at the time; there are, however, even stronger reasons to doubt that any Japanese contribution was an enduring one.

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  56. ASeoul Searcher:

    More from Haggard, Kang, and Moon (1997) in "Japanese Colonialism and Korean Development: A Critique" to illustrate why. (Emphases in original.)

    "Second, the belief in the continuity of the Japanese colonial state exhibits a technocratic bias. It is not the bureaucracy which ultimately makes policy, but the political elites who control it.

    "Third, the extent to which either the origins of postwar Korean capital can be traced to Japanese involvement in Korea is questionable. ...much of the Japanese-financed capital stock was destroyed or depreciated during 1945-53 and had to be built anew. Nor is ther emuch evidence of continuity in the nature of business-government relations from the 1930s through the 1960s.

    "Finally, we are sympathetic with the claim that postwar Korean development rested on important social preconditions. With the exception of labor repression, however, these involved a reversal of the social legacies of Japanese colonialism, including increased attention to human capital and land reforms (Shin, 1977; Ahn, 1981). Both of these developments were crucially important for subsequent economic growth, but were only possible because of political independence from Japanese rule.

    "The Japanese system was an imperial one in which Japanese and Korean interests coincided neither in the short or long run. It is easy to concede that Korea was more developed in 1945 than it was in 1910, but is that comparison relevant? ...we do have good reasons to question the benefits of Japanese rule in Korea, including the superior performance of Taiwan during the same period and the even more overwhelming evidence of Korea's success as an independent country."

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  57. So even the source seems to make The Seoul Searcher's point, there is "a shred of merit" to Japan bring some nominal support to helping industrialize Korea. There was on the other hand, many problems that would have stifled Korea if it did not break off of the colonial rule. This does not mean that it could not have done this on its own, or if another power took it as a colony it would not have improved it either.

    Sorry to anyone who feels that I am being insensitive on this subject, but if there seems to be a collective decision here to continue on technical polemical argument, then it is what it is. It seems like an insignificant argument when placed in context.

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  58. @Chrissy

    I can't believe you want to go the academic route on this one, but I'm game.

    Quoting from Bruce Cummings' "The Legacy of Japanese Colonialism in Korea." (This comes from Chapter 13 of someone else's book, but I can't find which book it is, because in Korean grad schools they usually copy the text and put it into reading packets rather than make you buy books.

    The chapter which was written in the 1970's emphasizes my point by showing that not only South Korea, but North Korea was also able to achieve economically thanks to the infrastructure established by the Japanese in the colonial Era. Keep in mind this is only 10-20 years after the magic 1960 date. Cummings says this:

    "...But the colonial period played an undeniable role in placing Korea above most Third World nations by 1945. Looking back over Korea's development in this century one can see rapid spurts in the first two decades, the third decade, and the sixth and seventh decades. The depression and two wars account for much of the backsliding in between. This is not to say that Koreans owe the Japanese anything for developing or modernizing their country, It is more correct to emphasize that Korea's capitalist revolution began-and got a long running start-during the colonial period..."

    Later in the chapter he writes:

    "Japan is the only colonial power to have located various heavy industries- steel, chemicals, hydro-electric power- in its colonies, a remarkable fact when considered comparitively. They were built during the second grand phase of Japanese industrialization and prabably accounted for about a quarter of Japan's industrial base by 1945. Even today China's industry remeains skewed toward the northeast, and since 1945 North Korea has always been the most industrialized socialist state in Asia, imparting and urband and industiral aspect to Korean socailsm that accounts for many of the differences between it and the more rural socialist China.
    The concern for industry and the contiguite of Korea led Japane to lay an extensive network of railways in the colony so that by 1945 Korea had the most developed rails system in Asia, outisde of Japan. In the early 1940's Korean rails carried almoste fifty percent as much traffica s in all of China. By 1945..." "... Along with the development of roads and ports, this infrastructure put Korea substaially ahead of other developing countries in 1945 (something almost always forgotten in discussing economic development in North and South Korea in the post-Korean War era)..."

    Whether you agree with Cumings is up to you, but by and large there is no academic consensus on the matter.

    Some agree with my point that Japan transformed Korean society, creating vital institutions such as a bureaucracy, and built infrastructure which which greatly aided the rapid development of the 1960's onward.

    Others disagree with reasons along several different ends of the spectrum, from the speculative (Korea would have done it on her own anyway), the false (Everything was destroyed in the Korean War), the emotional (Nothing good can be said about the colonial era because everyone in Korea was opposed to it and nobody collaborated.)

    You're doing your best to stay away from these, and I salute you.

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  59. @The Korean
    Sure, Korea of 1945 is more modern than Korea of 1910. That's obviously true, and no one can deny that. But so what? You already agree that imperial Japan's rule over Korea was egregious and damaging, and that Korea was entitled to self-determination. You also probably agree that this supposed benefit does not obigate Koreans to express gratitude to Japan, nor does it exonerate Japan from its numerous crimes.

    Once this context is established, the point about Korea's supposed modernization is better off not made. It tends to obscure the enormous culpability of imperial Japan by bringing up one of Japan apologists' favorite arguments, and only serves to piss people off in the process.


    None of that was my intention. I wrote a fairly long post in my original post, but the only thing that people seemed to want to discuss what that I said something taken alone sounds like a Japan apologist argument.

    The point I was trying to make in the original post is, yes, Japan did a lot of terrible things in the past and needs to do more to fess up about these things. At the same time, Koreans also need to accept that history happened, and be more receptive to any kind of dialog about the past relationship with Japan. I admit I'm limited in that most of my study of opinions on the matter is relegated to the English language.

    I guess a lot of it is coming from my experience in grad school at what's supposed to be one of Korea's top schools. When on the topic of the colonial period, even when the reading material and the professor just said that the rapid development of Korea has its origins in the colonial era, I'll get blasted for being a chinilpa by my fellow students for merely stating facts during a discussion on the matter.

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  60. Arguing with people who use their subjective feelings as their logical compass will always be futile. You can have a 100% valid logical rational argument / point and it will be completely discarded / ignored because your opponents emotions demand it. The best course of action, once its determined that someone is using their emotions to rationalize, is to just ignore them.

    The Seoul Searcher posted very valid logical arguments that took an objective look at history. His opponents immediately had an emotional reaction and vilified him / her. In their mind his argument became the enemy, even if it was merely hard logic. On several occasions he denounced what the Japanese did as ethically wrong, but the positive side effects can ~not~ be ignored.

    "Technicality's" are very very important to reality. You can not just sweep them aside to appease an emotional need. Doing so is dishonest and shows disrespect for the original argument.

    Korean undoubtedly was more modern after the Japanese invasion / colonization / annexation (pick your favorite word) then prior. The Japanese were brutal and committed unforgivable acts during this time. After the Japanese were forced off the Koreans eventually developed into one of the most modern society in the world. Much of that was built on the ruins of what the Japanese did.

    At the end of the day Japan reaped their ultimate reward by being the only country in the world to be bombed by a nuclear weapon. Not once but twice. That precipitated the complete alteration and reconstruction of not only their government but their entire society. The Japan of today is not the same Japan that invaded and raped Korea. That Japan died a long time ago and South Korea can and will never get any "revenge" for what happened. At the end of the day this all boils down to a desire to get revenge or otherwise feel the offender has suffered. The Japanese PM can go on world TV and cry his apologies then gut himself and it still wouldn't "be enough".

    The best course is to simply forgive and move on. Understand that what happened then was a result of the world at that time. Nothing you do know will have any effect on that, nor will it do anything to the need for revenge. Those modern day idiots who never lived during that era are just using nationalistic pride to further their own agendas. Those born after the death of Imperial Japan have little ground to stand on for any demands on current day Japan. And those born that generation have absolutely nothing to demand from a dead Japan.

    What Japan did was wrong, but the people and country that committed those acts are dead. Write it in the history books and stuff it in a library for those who wish to study. In the worlds of an old SGM "tomorrow is another damn day".

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  61. For myself, I don't think one has to overshoot the argument. I would find it hard to come up with a good logical argument by saying that absolutely did nothing that was anyway helpful for Korea. One can always argue that point, especially speaking in nearly absolute terms. I would think it be a better argument that regardless of how much Japan helped Korea, any of those beneficial ends did not justify the means, nor did they outweigh what happened.

    If you give that much, and in reply the apologist takes that inches to make it into a mile, then what is it worth arguing after that point?

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  62. @palladin
    I get the impression you have not read the whole thread and are generalising, being rather elitist and scathing. Please keep it clean.

    @Seoul Searcher
    What you say is correct. The Japanese occupation brought modern institutions and infrastructure into Korea. But this is not what you argued in your earlier posts. Your points changed through the thread.

    I have not denied the changes the occupation brought to Korea. My initial response was about the sibling analogy, ethinic ideology and the integrity of physical infrastructure post-Korean War. Also, I struggle to believe the Japanese enslaved the Japanese.

    I do understand what you are trying to get here (now at least). The occupation was bad and cannot be justified, but it introduced insitutions and infrastructure of the modern age. The overall point I feel is rather small in the bigger picture of things.

    During the occupation, the North was mainly the industrial base as can be seen during the first decade or so as North Korea was richer than the largely traditionally agricultural South.

    Roads and railways were built which was a big advantage over many Third World countries back then, but given how the Korean War unfolded, I feel the US-led military operation is credited with too little. It would have been vital to keep troops and supply lines flowing which would have meant the military command would have placed huge importance in reparing, rebuilding, maintaining and perhaps expanding the national road/railway network throughout the war.

    Modern insitutions and ideas were introduced with the occupation. These were very important. It is also important to point out how much damage the war would have done to buildings and what damage the loss in lives and refugees would have done to the human network. The knowledge were certainly still there but I feel it would have been not much different from starting from scratch. And even if the occupation is to credit more than I suggest, given the overall scale of things it would have not been central or very significant in South Korea's developement (seperate from money and technology transfers as part of appeasment).

    Overall, the occupation certainly modernised and brought changes into Korea. It gave a small boost in Korea's development. The sticking point is the degree of the role it played.

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  63. Simon says - "@palladin
    I get the impression you have not read the whole thread and are generalising, being rather elitist and scathing. Please keep it clean.

    Paladin - "The Seoul Searcher posted very valid logical arguments that took an objective look at history. His opponents immediately had an emotional reaction and vilified him / her. In their mind his argument became the enemy, even if it was merely hard logic.

    Simon, your response was an immediate emotional reaction to what Paladin had to say.

    He summed up what most people believe the best coarse of action for the Koreans should be in regard to the topic at hand.

    In my opinion, he did a damn good job. Nothing Paladin said was elitist or unclean.

    Simon (Seung Min), you can't be objective precisely because you are of Korean heritage. To a certain degree, we all understand this, but all Koreans need to let this issue die, move on and lead the lives of the 15th greatest country in the world accourding to Newsweek.

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  64. @Zilchy
    What you have done is read the first paragraph of my post then paraphrase palladin's post.

    You accuse me of not listening, but you are not reading.

    @palladin
    At the risk of sounding emotional, there are a few points which are not true.

    The people who commited those acts are not dead. Some are even in the government.

    The problem with apologies is not that East Asian countries are forever demanding them.

    The problem is that after every sincere apology, there is always some politician or scholar who denies the existence of comfort women, offer lower estimates for victims in the Rape of Nanking or outright retracts the apology.

    There are certainly those with sincerety but Japan is split on the issue. It is unfair but everytime someone comes up with revisionist theories, everything the others have done end up being ignored or worse considered lies.

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  65. Japan is a country not a person. You can not treat them the same way. If you were to walk over to Japan right now and start interviewing the local people you'd be quick to discover they really don't have much of a care for the pre WWII times. You can not stand on a soapbox and yell about "not sincere" when there is absolutely zero way a country can be "sincere". Especially when the country in question is dead and on longer exists. Get a grip on that, no matter what the text books say the modern day Japan is not the same country as WWII Japan. That other Japan has two nuclear bombs dropped on it and was forced into a unconditional surrender under threat of a third bomb. They then had to do whatever the victorious (USA) country told them to, had their government remade and entire national sense thrown in a blender.

    What else do you want? And I mean ~you~ as the collective people yelling about the insincerity. Would you prefer if it was the ~Koreans~ who did the dropping of the bombs and the enforcement of the unconditional surrender? The PM is a single person, so are the rest of the government. Would you judge them all based on the actions of a few idiots? If I remember correctly SK has done some pretty shady things to its own people over the years. Yet I don't expect the SK government to make a "sincere" apology for inciting riots and market manipulation regarding the import of US beef. I use that example because it quickly comes to mind, if people want they can dig around to find various rapes / thefts / frauds committed against foreigners were the foreigner was deliberately ignored and marginalized in order to protect national pride. And if SK is willing to do that for such small insults to national pride, what would a country nearby who had its pride smashed beyond recognition do?

    At the end of the day it boils down to exactly ~what~ would appease those crying about sincerity. You could try to make a list but even if they did those things people would still say it wasn't enough. It is because the thirst for vengeance is drilled into little Minsuk's brain during their years in a Korean school. Be sated that the Japan that committed these atrocities died a horrible nuclear death filled with much grief and woe. That a few cockroaches survived is no consequence as time will provide justice.

    Don't compare to the political landscape of modern Germany. The use Natzi supporter accusations like the US use's racist accusations. Its something that get thrown at opponents in the hopes it'll stick on something and do damage. Its no longer a search for justice, its merely a political tool for self gain.

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  66. palladin

    At the end of the day it boils down to exactly ~what~ would appease those crying about sincerity.

    Unnecessary choice of diction aside, that is a good point. And the Korean already provided such a list here (toward the bottom). If Japan satisfies these six conditions (which are not hard to do,) all but very few Koreans will consider the historical issue unresolved.

    The Korean will state his central point again: A significant percentage of Japanese, if not the majority, thinks that their country did nothing wrong in annexing Korea and killing hundreds of thousands. The whole thing about "sincerity" is just semantics, a shorthand to describe this central problem. And no one with a functioning moral compass can say that thinking there is nothing wrong in annexing another country and killing hundreds of thousands is some trivial matter that needs to be forgotten.

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  67. @palladin

    What else do you want? And I mean ~you~ as the collective people yelling about the insincerity.

    Easy answer (for me anyway).

    1. Mention of colonial era with emphasis on atrocities in all modern history books.

    2. A national day of remorse with the purpose to reflect upon what happened (doesn't need to be annual... just having one).

    3. Full citizenship rights for all Zainichi without requiring that they naturalize.

    4. An imperial visit to the very spot where the one sided treaty was signed, whereupon the Emperor apologizes to both surviving descendants of Korea's royal court and the president of Korea as the last imperial act, followed by the dissolution of Japan's imperial house.

    5. Renunciation of claims to Dokdo.

    Will that be enough for some? Maybe not. But I think if Japan were do that, most Koreans would think they are sincere, even if right wingers vehemently oppose all 5 tooth and nail.

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  68. @SimonSays

    Also, I struggle to believe the Japanese enslaved the Japanese.

    From wikipedia article on comfort women:

    "Historians and researchers have stated that the majority were from Korea, China, Japan and Philippines"

    But of course people say that wikipedia can be easily edited and isn't reliable, so with minimal effort:

    http://www.warbirdforum.com/comfort.htm

    "The largest number of "comfort women" were Korean and Chinese, followed perhaps by prostitutes recruited in Japan itself."

    Japan's Ministry of foreign affairs website:

    "5) Comfort women's place of origin

    The countries or areas from which it has been possible as a result of the study to confirm that comfort women came are: Japan; the Korean Peninsula; China; Taiwan; the Philippines; Indonesia; and the Netherlands. Apart from Japanese, many of the comfort women transferred to the war areas were from the Korean Peninsula."

    Japan Focus, in an article critical of Japanese politicians

    Some were Japanese women who had worked as prostitutes previously, and were "volunteers" in a sense, although often driven to "volunteer" through pressures of poverty, debt and desperation.

    I've found sites saying 90% of the women were from the Korean peninsula and I'm not going to dispute that number, but yes, some of the comfort women were Japanese.

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  69. @palladin
    It is true that the SK government was little better than the North til in recent years. Two wrongs don't make a right however, and these issues should be tackled as well as the wrongs done by SK.

    I cannot however deny the level of indoctrination involved in schools. People are not taught history and work things out for themselves but are taught to hate.

    On the bright side the two countries' economic, cultural and personal ties are improving seemingly independent from tense politics and hopefully can be a source of unity even if history is never resolved.

    @Seoul Searcher
    Ah ok, I didn't know that.

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  70. @ Seoul Searcher

    Your suggestion that Koreans under occupation would have assumed Japanese identity is maybe a bit ludicrous, no? Regarding other cases of minorities in Japan, you blame the minorities for failing to assimilate and assume that they're Japanese. Ever thought that the Japanese might be at blame for collectively reinforcing the perception of their differences?

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  71. @ Palladin

    Koreans do not want "revenge" or "true justice" (as zilchy would call it), and not necessarily an apology either. They simply want the Japanese people to accept the historical truth and not try to whitewash it. At that point, apology wouldn't be necessary because apologetic mentality would be an inherent part of that admittance and understanding. You frame the Koreans' expectations to this singular focus of apology and make it sound as if Koreans are asking for something unreasonable. But they are not (on both). The reason why Koreans don't get pissed at their government is because it doesn't deny or misconstrue its past mistakes. And the Japanese government and the people can do the same - that is not doing anything stupid like asking "how many apologies do they want?" and accepting the past and getting over it.

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  72. @ Zilchy, J Man, and D. Gator

    Yes Koreans have Mongol blood mixed in them. That's why Koreans tend to be taller than both Chinese and Japanese. But Zilchy, Koreans are not "descendants" of Mongols, and your "forefather" argument is essentially bull on two levels. Mongols are more like "cousins" than "forefathers," and you don't need to be held responsible for your cousins' wrongdoing. And that parallel example is pointless when "Koreans are descendants of" pretty much anything, including Adam and Eve, and can be applied indiscriminately. You are also neglecting the historical discontinuity between Adam and Eve (aka the Mongols, if I were hypothetically to concede Koreans were "descendants" of Mongols, which I do not) and the Koreans of post-Japanese occupation post-war North and South. The Japanese occupation of Korea and the Mongol invasions of Japan are of concern to people of different historical continuities, the same reason why Koreans do not ask Japan to apologize for the Japanese invasions during the 16th century.

    It's sad to see you making this sort of argument: "These events would be commonplace in the 1740's and earlier and most people probably wouldn't bat an eyelash at similar atrocious events." Really? Where? In what context? I think you made up that assumption with loose stereotypical knowledge and a lot of creativity. Nothing of the sort that happened in Japanese colonial rule can be compared to 18th century occupations. Wars don't count, and most of them among Europeans did not affect the civilian populace. And if you are going to bring up colonization and the slave trade, think again because people were indeed horrified at the time, and it was that sentiment that eventually led to the banning of slavery in most European states and domains by the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Also, since you asked the Koreans to "get over it," may I also ask the Japanese to "get over it" cuz it must be that easy? It's funny how the wrongdoer should make such a big deal about apologizing and actually try to make the victim the rude guy for being persistent when the wrongdoer is so reluctant in the first place. As I've said before, Koreans don't care about the Japanese PM's apologies and are not interested in seeing his face either. Koreans just get annoyed really when they hear about distorted view of history in Japanese textbooks and the pension payment of 99 yen ($1) to Korean laborers. It's like really annoying (like wanting to beat that guy up) when the wrongdoer denies the very wrong that is the subject of his apology. I know you guys don't really listen to what others say (or at least it seems). The Jews "got over it," only because the Germans "got over it."

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  73. @dokebi

    I don't know what really applied to me, other than maybe I mentioned "get over it in one of my post." Frankly it would be much easier if everyone did get over it, but far be it from me to expect it. I think the Koreans have a point. I don't think it does much good if getting over it means, that the one's who did something wrong, just go about saying nothing wrong happened. Yes many today may have nothing to do with what happened in the past, but even still, I think they have a responsibility to say what was wrong in the past was wrong, and back it up.

    Also if at this point in time, I might have to take imperfect contrition rather than perfect contrition, I'll take that over no contrition at all. I don't really feel there is really any need to try to make this go away, and just suppress this ill-will. My fear would be this could fester, and crop up later.

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  74. @dokebi

    Your suggestion that Koreans under occupation would have assumed Japanese identity is maybe a bit ludicrous, no?

    Well I'm talking about if the occupation lasted for 4 or 5 generations and continued to this day. Certainly I don't expect that it would have happened in a mere 36 years.


    Regarding other cases of minorities in Japan, you blame the minorities for failing to assimilate and assume that they're Japanese. Ever thought that the Japanese might be at blame for collectively reinforcing the perception of their differences?


    I think it's a little of both actually.

    Going back to Korea under Japanese rule (the whole country), Koreans wouldn't be a tiny minority group in Japan, they'd be about 1/3rd of the empire's population, and I argue that after 4 or 5 generations going to Japanese schools, adopting Japanese names, being taught that they were Japanese, and Korean culture fully erased, they'd basically not be minorities. Japanese themselves would also have to have been indoctrinated to believe that Koreans and Japanese were the same people.

    Similar to how Korea teaches that Koguryo, Paekjae, and Shilla were all Korean, tho if you asked the people in each kingdom if they were the same at that time, they'd have probably told you hell no.

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  75. Alright, the Korean has seen enough. Going forward, please limit the discussion to the topic of the OP, i.e. Japan's apology.

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  76. @The Korean,

    I read the list of things you made, and they have absolutely zero change of happening. The PM killing himself would have a greater chance. Every "list" of things I've seen wrote yet all involve a central theme. That of Japan legalizing Korea's suffering and giving up a part of their own freedom (legal requirement of cabinet members not to visit a location ... seriously). Their all wrote from a "We're Korea and we want you to do something uncomfortable so we feel better" point of view. That ~is~ revenge no matter how you paint it. Wanting another person or group of persons to suffer or otherwise experience pain to assuage the emotions of a victimized party is revenge.

    Japan rewrites history exactly how South Korea rewrites history. As a US citizen maybe I should demand South Korea stop teaching its children (through history books) that the Korean was was just the USA trying to exploit poor little Korea. Stop teaching that the Korean was had nothing to do with freedom and if the USA would of left poor little Korea lone it would of frolicked in the wind with its northern brethren, all happy singing camp fire songs. Korea as a country has absolutely zero ground to stand on in demanding other countries alter their history books.

    Above I've already mentioned that the anti-natzi law in Germany is just a political tactic these days. Politicians gotta be extremely careful to structure every word they say to prevent the opposition from crying "NATZI SUPPORTER!!!! burn HIM". All that would do in the ROK would be to make the country even ~more~ hyper nationalist with the politicians instead saying "you support JAPAN, your against your mother country!!!!". They already do most of that, you'd only criminalize it further.

    And FYI as I've mentioned several times, the Japan that committed these crimes no longer exists. We don't hear Europe making claims against France in reference to Napoleon because that country no longer exists. Modern Japan is not WWII Japan and should no longer deal with the actions of WWII Japan. Stop bickering about past history and work towards the future. Imperial Japan got what it deserved, just not at the hands of Korea. If someone still feels a need for some form of Japanese suffering (forced loss of national honor / pride is suffering BTW) then they need to see a priest or a doctor cause there is some deeper issues at foot.

    @Simon,

    I was demonstrating how even "pool victimized Korea" does the things people are demanding Japan not do. Nearly all countries of the world rewrite their history books to show themselves in the best possible light. They then teach that to their children in the hopes of creating a nationalistic sentiment culture that further supports the country. They each use their own point of view on the matter rather then a neutral objective point of view.

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  77. palladin,

    the Japan that committed these crimes no longer exists.

    Absolutely untrue. WWII was only 65 years ago, and the remnants of imperial Japan have a large part in Japan of today. Two quick examples:

    1. Mitsubishi, one of the greatest companies in Japan, became that way by building fighter jets during the war. It is also the largest mobilizer of forced labor from Korea. (And to its credit, it expressed willingness to directly compensate Korean survivors.)

    2. Kishi Nobuske, who was imprisoned as a Class A war criminal after WWII, did not just survive the war. He became the Prime Minister of Japan from 1957-1958, and solidified the LDP rule that continued until the turn of the century. LDP, if you recall, is the main party denying Japan's war culpability. Democratic Party, in contrast, is much more willing to recognize Japan's past -- which is why this round of apology (and also the Murayama Danwa of 1993) was even possible.

    Kishi's family ended up forming a political elite, and their attitude toward Japan's past is predictable. His grandson is former prime minister Abe Shinzo, who famously denied the existence of Comfort Women even though Japanese government previously recognized that imperial Japanese government indeed mobilized these women. If imperial Japan is dead, how do the major players of imperial Japan continue to exert influence over today's Japan? If the grandchild of Hermann Goering (who was equivalent to Kishi)denied German war crimes, there will be international outrage. Which brings us to the next point.

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  78. Comparability to Germany

    The Korean hates Godwin's Law as much as anyone, but comparison to what Germany did post-WWII is one of the few situations in which such comparison is legitimate and apt. Nazi Germany was the co-criminal of imperial Japan. Imperial Japan's war crimes may not measure up to Nazi Germany's ones in terms of the number of death, but the sheer depravity involved in imperial Japan's war crimes makes up for the difference. Not even Nazi Germany managed to kill hundreds of thousands in mere six weeks (Rape of Nanking), forced hundreds of thousands of women into what is essentially a continued and systematic rape (Comfort Women) or perform an officially sanctioned live human experimentation (Unit 731).

    And obviously, Germany did a LOT more than Japan to atone for its crimes. But even still, a German company that dates back to WWII is not allowed to purchase a naming right of the Giants stadium, in America (not even Israel or Poland.) And exactly no one was telling those who protested against Allianz insurance to "Let things go, because it is ancient history."

    One more small point, and the final point.

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  79. The small point:

    As a US citizen maybe I should demand South Korea stop teaching its children (through history books) that the Korean War was just the USA trying to exploit poor little Korea. Stop teaching that the Korean War had nothing to do with freedom and if the USA would of left poor little Korea lone it would of frolicked in the wind with its northern brethren, all happy singing camp fire songs.

    Find the Korean a SINGLE official history textbook in Korea, used in K-12 public education, that says any of what you listed above. Just one. Or alternatively, find the Korean a SINGLE official K-12 history textbook that does not list the U.S. as the main line of defense against communism.

    This is a separate issue, but the Korean is just sick and tired of people blowing anti-Americanism in Korea out of any proportion. Anti-Americanism absolutely exists in Korea. It exists everywhere in the world. But to think that anti-Americanism drives Korea -- to the degree that it would resort to teaching children falsehood, like the way Japan teaches historical lies to its children -- is preposterous.

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  80. And the final point:

    Their all wrote from a "We're Korea and we want you to do something uncomfortable so we feel better" point of view. That ~is~ revenge no matter how you paint it. Wanting another person or group of persons to suffer or otherwise experience pain to assuage the emotions of a victimized party is revenge.

    What you describe is also called "justice". When justice is served, the wronged party is compensated and the wrongdoer punished, i.e. made to suffer or experience pain. And one of the functions of such punishment is precisely to assuage the emotions of the victim.

    Really, there are only two questions that are relevant here: (1) Did imperial Japan do something wrong by annexing Korea and damaging millions? The answer is yes. (2) Did Japan as a nation receive adequate punishment and make adequate compensation for the damages it caused? The answer is no.

    Really, the cost to Japan to make adequate compensation is so trivial (as the Korean described in his list) that Japan's unwillingness to confront this issue becomes comical. The "freedom" given up by the Japanese cabinet -- who are not mere individuals but representatives of their state -- is minimal, no more than the amount of freedom given up by German politicians (or heck, American politicians) in not attending Nazi rallies.

    No one can dispute that Japan is a great country. It is wealthy, powerful, innovative and artistic. And its historical autism is really unbecoming of such a great nation.

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  81. @palladin

    Imperial Japan got what it deserved, just not at the hands of Korea.

    I can't agree that Imperial Japan got what it deserved. It deserved to be punished after surrendering in WWII. Instead the U.S. enabled it to be its major Asian ally (since the Nationalists lost in China). With U.S. sponsorship, Japan was able to rise to be the #2 economy in the world. To jump start this economic rise, Japan was able to use a Korean tragedy, the Korean War through various procurement programs with the U.S.

    To top it all off, the U.S. took the scientific results of human experimentation and didn't punish those responsible in the correct way.

    They left the Imperial House in tact.

    They refuse to take a position on Dokdo.

    Did Japan really get what it deserved?

    If being hoisted up to be the #2 economy in the world and not expected to show any kind of responsibility for crimes is what Japan deserves, what does Korea as the victim deserve?

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  82. This is a separate issue, but the Korean is just sick and tired of people blowing anti-Americanism in Korea out of any proportion.

    I second that. The U.S. media likes stories like that a little bit too much, and the U.S. embassy often issues warnings that aren't even necessary.

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  84. (@ Korean,

    I don't think you need to flatter about Japan b/c that might fuel the fire in some ppl here)

    @ palladin

    'we want you to do something uncomfortable so we feel better' point of view."

    is not "revenge" because Korea is not reciprocating by imposing the same sort of suffering on Japan

    and

    we actually want you to do nothing and nothing stupid so no one feel offended.

    It is in this absence of "revenge" and the cosmic microwave background of the void that Japan breaks the silence and makes the first moves to antagonize its neighbors, by writing distorted textbooks (then they have this massive academic dialogue about this abstract concept of history as fundamentally revisionist - funny) and visiting shrines for war criminals.

    And it is in this context that a demand for 'sincere apology' arises, and likes of palladin starts singing songs about "... is revenge" and makes silence of the victim a virtue.

    May I propose that this sort of thinking so befits the mindset of a yakuza thug?

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