Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Great article by Prof. Peter Beck of Keio University of the benefit of the potential Korea-Japan alliance, and what Japan needs to do to make it happen:
While Tokyo continues to claim Dok-do, the average Japanese just doesn’t care. Most Japanese would not be able to find the island on a map. Indeed, I could not find a single public sign in Tokyo or any other of the seven major cities I have visited concerning ‘Takeshima’. ...

I told my Japanese audiences that if Tokyo renounced its hopeless claim, there would be a flood of Korean goodwill. Yet, many Japanese believe this would undermine Tokyo’s claim to the Northern Territories (even though Moscow shows no intention of even discussing what it calls the Kurile Islands). Keio University’s Soeya Yoshihide argues that the real issue is Japan’s domestic politics: the right-wingers must be placated. Japanese are crazy about Korean food, dramas and Girls’ Generation, not Dok-do! Given Korea’s military control of Dok-do, Tokyo’s claim should be ignored.
A Korea-Japan alliance? [East Asia Forum]

Parts of the article sounds awfully like the Korean's idea of a potential Godfather offer that Japan can make to instantly improve its relations with Korea. The Korean can't help but think he might be in the wrong gig.

15 comments:

  1. Japan renouncing Takeshima is about as likely as China renouncing that huge-ass swath of the South China seas and all its islands.

    There are more important things at play than Koreans' touchy "feelings", and the fact is, all four - Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Russian - have politicians that use territorial disputes to keep attention away from domestic problems and shore up domestic support. To act as if Koreans themselves are immune to such political puppetry is laughable.

    Those are my two cents.

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  2. There are more important things at play than Koreans' touchy "feelings"

    Are you seriously saying that two pieces of rock in the middle of nowhere is more important than a huge outpour of goodwill?

    To act as if Koreans themselves are immune to such political puppetry is laughable.

    Who acted that way?

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    Replies
    1. I'm very late to the party, but:

      Are you seriously saying that two pieces of rock in the middle of nowhere is more important than a huge outpour of goodwill?

      While I have no opinion about cornflakes as a commenter in general, that there's a questionable response, when the very sentence after the one you quoted shows what cornflakes is really saying: that the utility of the territorial dispute as a distraction from domestic political issues is much greater when it remains unsolved, and that, yes, the political utility of the dispute in terms of controlling domestic politics is seen both in Korea and Japan as more important than any theorized positive change in Korean-Japanese relations.

      While I have no interest in the discussion of Dokdo generally (beyond puzzling through why Koreans want so badly for foreigners to endorse their claim on it, and get so annoyed when they don't), what I what I want to ask is this:

      Why do you think there would be a huge outpouring of goodwill from Korea towards Japan? That certainly doesn't seem likely to me.

      It seems unlikely for two reasons:

      1. I don't seen any precedents for states (or, say, provinces--I'm thinking among other places of Quebec) where the conscious cultivation of a politics of resentment was overcome by a magnanimous act by the resented former "oppressor." Has it ever happened before anywhere? I'm not talking about a surge of indifference, but of actual goodwill.

      2. Does the scenario of a surge of Korean goodwill following Japan's rescinding of all claims to Dokdo seem realistic to you based on the personal interactions you've had with Koreans? Personally, I find people from Korean culture less likely on average to "bury the hatchet" over perceived slights than people I've met from almost any other culture. Subjective, I know. But most expats I know, and a lot of Koreans, say the same. Certainly my experiences were eye-opening, and the stories I've heard even more so!

      Just one example, but also the least awful cases in my experience. Maybe I was unlucky, but when I tell those stories to Koreans I know well, they all laugh and say, "Of course," as if that is precisely what they expect would happen. So if you ask me, expecting a real, permanent shift towards goodwill is, well, unrealistic.

      I don't want to talk about whether Korea is entitled to such an emotional reaction (to me, entitlement is a less important question than how useful such a reaction actually is to Koreans); but for now, I just want to question whether this imagined surge of goodwill is even realistic, and what it would really constitute.

      A week of smiles and happy internet posting, followed by a return to Japan bashing on different grounds a few months later? I have the feeling that for far too many Koreans, especially men, resenting and hating Japan is a habit too old, too deeply-entrenched, and too reflexive to really break through any means at all.

      The hysterical rage and monomaniacal focus I've encountered make me think of the Tea Party Movement in the US, and really, I can't imagine a single scenario where Obama could say or do anything--however contrary to his own interest, his party's interests, and America's interests--that would cause the Tea Party Movement's members to stop feeling that irrational hate and fear. Not, "We don't need health insurance reform," not "Americans don't need abortions," and not even, "I quit. Vote Republican."

      Maybe the comparison is unfair (who wants to be compared to the Tea Party Movement?)--but in terms of sheer emotional hysteria and angry resentment, it's the closest example I can find in American society.

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  3. "Are you seriously saying that two pieces of rock in the middle of nowhere is more important than a huge outpour of goodwill?"

    You misunderstood. I am saying the Koreans' nationalist fetichizing (sp?) of two tiny rocks is far less important than the reason why Japan holds its stubborn position: to not weaken its claims on its Kuril and East China isles. If Japan bends to Korean emotional outbursts, then what happens is China and Russia will have seen Japan's weakness and exploit them for THEIR disputes. I am not defending Japan here so much as explaining it in non-Korean perspective. There is complex geopolitics at work, which is more important than feelings (I am referring to your 99yen post you linked to).

    "Who acted that way?"

    With all due respect, I think you did. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but you said Japan should give in to Korea in this claim because it is the "right" thing to do to "atone" for its past sins, and take up the "honor" and "morality" mantle, which is laughable because it implies 1) Koreans are on the moral high ground in this dispute than Japan, which is not true (they are all guilty of political play to their domestic audience through an "easy" issue like territorial disputes), and 2) it implies the territorial disputes SHOULD be connected to past historical attrocities. Which is not right. Only issues related to historical attrocities - textbook controversy, shrine visits, etc - should be connected to historical atrocities. Anything otherwise - trade disputes, territorial disputes, etc - should be free of such emotionally explosive yet irrelevant issues.

    But doing so is so irresistable if you are a politician willing to increase domestic support through nationalism, so many do so.

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  4. I am saying the Koreans' nationalist fetichizing (sp?) of two tiny rocks is far less important than the reason why Japan holds its stubborn position: to not weaken its claims on its Kuril and East China isles.

    As Prof. Beck noted, it is not as if Japan's claim over Kurile and East China isles is any stronger than the same over Dokdo. Other than that, the Korean really has not seen any argument as to why Japan cares about Dokdo, other than petty emotions on the Japanese side. Obviously not as widespread as Korea's counterpart, but just as petty and just as intense by those who care about the issue.

    With all due respect, I think you did. Please correct me if I am mistaken...

    Here, this is what the Korean wrote in the 99-yen post: "Because really, the dirty little secret in the Korea-Japan relation is that some Korean politicians just love having a whipping boy in Japan to stir up nationalist sentiments that serve as an instant support/distraction."

    Koreans are on the moral high ground in this dispute than Japan, which is not true...

    Japan invaded Korea and annexed it. The Korean thinks the question of moral high ground is an obvious one.

    it implies the territorial disputes SHOULD be connected to past historical attrocities. Which is not right.

    Even when the territorial dispute has a clearly imperialistic origin?

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  5. "Japanese are crazy about Korean food, dramas and Girls’ Generation, not Dok-do!"

    -Girls Generation? Really?!?!

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  6. "Other than that, the Korean really has not seen any argument as to why Japan cares about Dokdo, other than petty emotions on the Japanese side. Obviously not as widespread as Korea's counterpart, but just as petty and just as intense by those who care about the issue."

    Well, I have already said why Japan cares: because it weakens its position with its disputes with Russia and China. Hey from the Chinese view, the South China sea isles have much less importance than say, Tibet or Taiwan, but you can bet all your fortune that they will not move an inch in their claims because that would weaken their claims on Taiwan, etc, and expose them to exploitation in the future. Same thing with Japan.

    "Here, this is what the Korean wrote in the 99-yen post"
    I stand corrected.

    "Japan invaded Korea and annexed it. The Korean thinks the question of moral high ground is an obvious one."
    You are confusing "who has moral high ground" with "Did Japan wrong Korea in recent history?" I asked the first; you answered the second. The answer to the first is: neither side. Both are guilty of playing to the audience, actually I would say Koreans are more guilty since they are the ones who complain about the issue, even though the Japanese do not complain (although it is ROK soldiers and not Japanese who are stationed there!)


    "Even when the territorial dispute has a clearly imperialistic origin?"
    Do not make the mistake that so many others make when it comes to territorial disputes: they have their origins in history, but their present controversy is linked to present nationalism and political distraction. The reason why Koreans love to bring up the isles when discussing Japanese historical legacy is that they need a villain to distract from their domestic political divisions and problems, and they need to get *something* - anything, really - from Japan, which automatically makes them feel good. Do not be fooled into thinking that two useless rocks are fair compensation for past imperialism - they are instead an emotional gateway drug.

    In fact, you admitted so in your 99yen post: the isles should be given away by Japan not because of historical documents proving Koreans owned it since long before, but rather through present difficulties in relations with her neighbor. History, as usual, must bow in deference to present realities.

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  7. You are confusing "who has moral high ground" with "Did Japan wrong Korea in recent history?"

    Those two questions are the same. This entire squabble originates from Japan's imperial quest, which Japan is yet to own up its fault as sincerely and willingly as its co-conspirators. All Korea has been doing is to point out that Japan has failed to own up to its faults. Korea has to do that over and over again because Japan is still failing to own up, over and over again. Dokdo is but one aspect of that failure to own up, which is why Korea brings it up again and again.

    Victim always remembers the crime more than the criminal. That's what this comes down to.

    when it comes to territorial disputes ... they have their origins in history, but their present controversy is linked to present nationalism and political distraction.

    The best you can say here is "linked," which is telling. Are you ready to say that this current dispute is the purely, or even predominantly, a result of Korea's baseless, manufactured lies, as Japanese nationalists do? Unless you commit to a position, there is no point having a conversation.

    In fact, you admitted so in your 99 yen post: the isles should be given away by Japan not because of historical documents proving Koreans owned it since long before, but rather through present difficulties in relations with her neighbor.

    You were already chastised once for putting words into the Korean's mouth, and you are doing that again here. Stop it.

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  8. "Those two questions are the same."

    I disagree. A territorial dispute should be resolved by historical documents clearly proving - not just to fellow Koreans, but also international observers - that the territory belongs to you. If you resort to "But they greatly hurt us in the past! Therefore, our claim has more merit." then you will gain few converts except your fellow "patriotic" countrymen.

    "Victim always remembers the crime more than the criminal. That's what this comes down to."
    This comment is pretty telling. Instead of an emphasis on historical evidence, it relies on retribution and emotion.

    "The best you can say here is "linked," which is telling. Are you ready to say that this current dispute is the purely, or even predominantly, a result of Korea's baseless, manufactured lies, as Japanese nationalists do? "
    When I say "linked to history", I am referring to the need to look beyond the Japanese colonization history of 20th century. It is "linked to history" in that you need documentation that can prove to historians beyond the Korea-sphere that your claims to the territory go back centuries, not just the past one - is not Korea, after all, 3 millenia old? They sure tell us so! So surely there must be documentation to prove it.


    "You were already chastised once for putting words into the Korean's mouth, and you are doing that again here. Stop it."
    There a few signs that can tell when someone is breaking:

    1. threatening to ban
    2. not answering the question
    3. If I have misunderstood, failing to point out how I misunderstood, in a civil way

    Listen, if you cannot hold a serious discussion without resorting to threats, I am curious to know why even bother to open up the comments section up for debate. I mean, you can ban me if you want, not that I would take that personally. I also can't help but notice that while you have no qualms resorting to name-calling and profanity in addressing critics in your blog (those Korean animal rights activists, Wesley Yang, that westerner who wrote about Korean food) you have a remarkably thin skin when softer criticism is directed your way.

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  9. If you resort to "But they greatly hurt us in the past! Therefore, our claim has more merit." then you will gain few converts except your fellow "patriotic" countrymen.

    Who resorted to that? Do you even know the origin of the Dokdo controversy? Japan's claim essentially is that Japan owned Dokdo since 1905 when Japanese government claimed it. One of the major legal questions has always been whether that claim was valid. (The other being whether San Francisco Treaty gave Dokdo back to Korea, if Japan's claim was valid.) That question has a clear imperialistic implication, since it was a part of Japan's imperialistic quest that Japan claimed Dokdo.

    Instead of an emphasis on historical evidence, it relies on retribution and emotion.

    Find me a justice system in the world that does not rely on retribution and emotion.

    When I say "linked to history", I am referring to the need to look beyond the Japanese colonization history of 20th century.

    Actually, you never said "linked to history." You said "their present controversy is linked to present nationalism and political distraction." Wanna try again?

    I mean, you can ban me if you want, not that I would take that personally.

    Who said anything about banning? I told you to stop putting words in my mouth, which is again what you're doing here.

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  10. This exchange has drifted far enough, so I will reiterate the point of the post: It will be in Japan's self-interest to give up on Dokdo. The point does not involve who has a better historical claim, which is another issue altogether.

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  11. The Dokdo dispute is hurting Korea much more than Japan not only because the Japanese deal with the dispute in a much more reasonable way, but also because the history clearly shows that Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo) was Japanese territory, not Korean.

    As more and more Koreans and non-Koreans learn the history, they will start to realize that Korea has been lying about Dokdo all this time, which may cause them to start to wonder what other history Koreans have lied about. Some may even start to wonder if the colonial period was as bad as many Koreans have claimed.

    If Korea finally admits the lie and gives up her claim to Dokdo, she could start to rebuild her reputation and also regain the trust and goodwill of the Japanese people and the rest of the world.

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  12. Since you seem unwilling to continue the discussion, I will respect your decision and this will be my last post in this thread (it's your blog, after all).

    "Who resorted to that? Do you even know the origin of the Dokdo controversy? Japan's claim essentially is that Japan owned Dokdo since 1905 when Japanese government claimed it. One of the major legal questions has always been whether that claim was valid. (The other being whether San Francisco Treaty gave Dokdo back to Korea, if Japan's claim was valid.)"

    The flip side to the statement "Japan began its claim in 1905" is "when did Korea's claim start?" From what I recall, Korea did not assert sovereignty until the Rhee presidency in the 1950s. Of course, Koreans have brought out "historical maps" of past Korean dynasties that named and pinpointed the rocks....but that has the same flaws as the Chinese maps that do the same for the South China sea isles: the naming and locating the isles on your maps is not the same as asserting sovereignty; and the (western) concept of sovereignty as we know it today did not emerge until the late 19th, early 20th century.

    "Actually, you never said "linked to history." You said "their present controversy is linked to present nationalism and political distraction." Wanna try again?"

    Sure, bud.
    I mixed up "origins in history" with "linked in history". Although both phrases basically mean the same in this context. I hope you are not gonna argue based on semantics?

    And as for "their present controversy is linked to present nationalism and political distraction", what's to argue about that? It is the same in China and Russia (and Japan, of course, although more as a reaction to Korean accusations). Prez Roh did the same trick as his popularity was faltering, now Lee does the same. Surprise? Not really. In fact, I don't think there is anything that so unifies the Korean left and the right - and even South and North Korea - as when it comes to Japan bashing in general, and Dokdo/Takeshima in particular. Such is the power of "the historical villain."

    "I told you to stop putting words in my mouth, which is again what you're doing here."
    Or....you could have said, "cornflakes my dear, that's not what my 99yen post said, it is not true that I said 'The isles should be given away by Japan not because of historical documents proving Koreans owned it since long before, but rather through present difficulties in relations with her neighbor.' Instead, I meant X, Y, Z." It's really that simple.


    "Find me a justice system in the world that does not rely on retribution and emotion."
    This statement is not helping you.

    "I will reiterate the point of the post: It will be in Japan's self-interest to give up on Dokdo. The point does not involve who has a better historical claim, which is another issue altogether."
    Neither is this. In fact, the above is (partly) what I have been trying to tell you!

    For your sake, TK, lower your temperature. G'day.

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  13. Gerry,

    1.

    If lying about history destroyed a country's reputation, there would have been nothing left of the reputation of Japan after this. Or this. Or this. Each of the issues about which Japan previously lied is far more significant than the two rocks in the middle of the ocean.

    2.

    How is Korea supposed to "regain the trust and goodwill of the Japanese people" when most Japanese cannot even find Dokdo on a map?

    cornflakes,

    Or....you could have said, "cornflakes my dear, that's not what my 99yen post said, ... Instead, I meant X, Y, Z." It's really that simple.

    The Korean has been at this gig long enough to tell between when a person has a point to make, and when a person is making a dishonest argument. His policy is not to bother with the dishonest argument.

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  14. To Gerry Bevers

    Really?
    I would very much like to see the history you are referring to that clearly shows Dokdo was a Japanese territory. Of course the history has to be based on reliable sources or documents.

    FYI I am a Korean and don't speak Japanese.

    ReplyDelete

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