Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ask a Korean! News: Japan Didn't Really Change

The Korean is having a very busy stretch, but he cannot let this one slide:
Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto refused Wednesday to back down from his comments about the necessity of the “comfort woman” system during the war or the desirability of legal brothels in Okinawa for U.S. military personnel.

. . .

On his advice to American officials in Okinawa earlier this month that U.S. military personnel should make more use of sex establishments as a way of controlling their sexual urges, Hashimoto said he did not tell the U.S. that it should use such facilities, or to build such facilities, noting it was only a suggestion.

When the Korean wrote the long series on Korea-Japan relations to explain why Koreans are still angry with the Japanese, a lot of people responded:  "Today's Japan is a very different place from the Imperial Japan during World War II. So Koreans should just get over it."

Is it now? Today's Japan has a mayor of a major city, who is considered a potential future Prime Minister, telling the world that sex slaves are necessary in times of war and the U.S. forces in his own country should visit brothels more often. Today's Japan has a Prime Minister who is a grandson of a Class A war criminal. But rather than having a heightened consciousness about his country's past crimes, he sits in an airplane with the number 731--clear invocation of Unit 731, which conducted live human experimentation during World War II--grinning and giving a thumbs-up

The fact that these two leaders think Japan did nothing wrong during World War II was hardly a secret. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo announced to the world that he would withdraw Japan's apology to former Comfort Women, and denied that Imperial Japan forcibly recruited the Comfort Women to serve as sex slaves. Yet the Japanese people overwhelmingly elected Abe, as well as the candidates for the far-right Japan Restoration Party, to which Mayor Hashimoto belongs.

By the way, the former Comfort Women are still holding their weekly protest in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. They have been protesting every week, without fail, for more than 20 years. Commemorating the 1000th Wednesday Protest, this is what the Korean wrote:
The Japanese people I know are wonderful, kind, artistic, gritty and civic-minded people, worthy of deep admiration. But the longer this takes, I cannot draw myself away from this appalling conclusion:  Japan, as a whole, does not think it did anything wrong to these women. I desperately want to believe that the Japanese people are not amoral monsters, who would rather play the cynical waiting game until all of the former Comfort Women die away. But each time the Wednesday protesters are turned away, each time the Japanese Embassy protests a statue commemorating the Comfort women, my faith in human decency, common among all people of all places and times, gets chipped away little by little.
With these two latest scandals, the Korean's faith in the decency of the Japanese people took a very large hit. Did Japan really change? You tell me.

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

52 comments:

  1. I am wondering how this breaks down in terms of Japanese demographics. Who voted these men into their offices? Men over 40? Men over 30? What percentages of younger men and women voted, and for whom did the women vote (I realize this may be meaningless, if women traditionally vote the way their husbands tell them). I guess I am trying to see if there is any hope of change in the attitudes of the younger generations compared to the pre-Internet generation. I am not trying to craft an apologia for Japan, but I'd be very disappointed to see that these attitudes are still entrenched in the same people who cheer on Korean boy bands so enthusiastically.

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    1. I dunno statistics and I didn't research Japanese politics that much, but considering Japan as a capitalist society, I believe the majority of the youth is just apathic, I don't think they actually care. That's what the youth is like everywhere nowadays.

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    2. I found some data from 2009 when he was newly elected as governor for Osaka prefecture (http://www.osaka-shisei.jp/documents/04matsutani.pdf‎). According to this paper he had a very strong support over all age groups. This was before he started venting his thoughts on international politics though. Also remember that he was a fairly well-known TV personality, and very different from most other Japanese politicians, most who, like Abe, are second or third generation. It will be interesting to see how the numbers changes now.

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    3. I had such a suspect yesterday in my head, and now you proved it right.
      Some politicians just use dirty tricks to get all the popularity and then they show their true face once they've reached the top.

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    4. One more thing to add for Judith; Even though Japan has very low rating on gender equality in politics and corporate management, Japanese women are quite strong and I think you would have a hard time finding wives that vote according to their husbands. As an example, three quarters of Japanese husbands only get a monthly allowance from their wife, and for half of them the amount is less than 300 USD. (http://resemom.jp/article/2011/10/26/4773.html)

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  2. I think its true that anti-Korean sentiment is generally weaker in the younger people today, but we are looking at a society that is aging rapidly in any case. As for what the average Japanese person thinks about the protesters in Seoul, I dare say they have never even heard of them, young people especially. The older people still read newspapers and watch news on TV, but both focus heavily on domestic issues. Meanwhile the Japanese internet is still mostly blogs of housewives cats. I suspect the majority of the political blogs that do exist are written by nationalists.

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  3. I think it's been brought up before, but the German-Japanese comparison is always apt. In the 1950s, Germany and Japan held a similar mentality (We payed reparations, what more do you want? History is exaggerated, etc.). You could draw further parallels with significant numbers of Nazi-era officials being brought into the bureaucracy and military, much like how many Japanese Imperialists were brought into the new Japanese government.

    The two nations diverged however in the 1960s when Willy Brandt seized the chancellorship with the Social Democrats. Will Brandt not just led formal political reconciliation with Germany's victims in WWII, but his government made a strong effort to educate the German people with the truth of German atrocities and bring real repentance and reconciliation. The man was literally on his knees in front of a Warsaw ghetto. Just as important, his Social Democrats were in power long enough to allow those changes to so thoroughly become embedded that when the conservative CDU came back to power under Helmut Kohl, they fully adopted the changes the Social Democrats made.

    Contrast this with Japan which spent basically the 1950s through the mid 1990s under the same conservative LDP government. There was no change in thought or attitude. At best, the Japanese government was able to buy off the Chinese and Koreans, providing loans and grants while those governments kept nationalistic sentiments tamped down. When the LDP hold was toppled in the 1990s, the coalition government was so weak that even though it began reconciliation with a formal apology, it couldn't make much progress before the LDP came back to power one year later. Japan needed a Willy Brandt and a strong center-left party to lead the way. Unfortunately, Murayama and the Japanese Social Democrats were simply too weak.

    I would also argue that Japan's delay in the process has only made it more difficult for any real reconciliation. Had they done it back when Japan was at its peak, Chinese and Korean nationalism were somewhat under control and Japan had bought some goodwill through economic aid, they might have gotten their message across more smoothly. Instead, now you have Japan in a weak position, China and Korea ascendant, and both those nations experiencing near-rabid nationalistic sentiments, it'll be much harder for all involved to come together.

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    1. Right. Germany and Japan. Their situations were the same...if you ignore the details.

      Germany was one of several states in Europe at the time, and didn't even have the best relations with the US among them. France and England were equally well regarded, and the English in particular had a greater weight in public opinion than Germany. In addition, Germany almost didn't exist after the end of the war, divided into four regions controlled by different countries. It was reunited, yes, but at first France was against the idea, and it was only after France realized that they needed Germany for Europe to survive that they accepted a West Germany that was composed of the three Allies' territories. The German nation as a state was much more precarious in the early days, and if they didn't do something to appease the other European states, who knows if the French and English would have done anything if hostilities broke out into limited was in that region.

      Japan on the other hand was the only modern nation in East Asia. China is the only country that can say World War II was a break in the middle of their own civil war, which they got back to within two years of Japan's surrender. South Korea was a basket case that was about to descend into its own civil war shortly after.

      It didn't help that, while the western European countries had functioning democracies and civil societies, the western-allied countries of Asia were dominated by dictators (Marcos, 1965-1986; Chiang Kai-shek, 1950-1975; Park Chung-hee, 1962-1979; Suharto, 1967-1998; Thanom, 1957-1973) who were supported by the US as anti-Communists. Most of those countries did not have democracies until the 90s, and civil society lagged behind that for several years.

      Japan was set up by Americans for America as a bulwark against Communism, and its economic success soon made it a leader and a model for the nations around Asia. War criminals (actually in both Japan and Germany) were given a pass by an indifferent American government that was intent on building up their defenses against the spectre of Communism. There was no reason for Japan to apologize in the past, and they have not faced a crisis large enough to make them realize that they should apologize now.

      In a lot of ways, the situation is more similar to the inter-war period, where France, England and Germany kept on with their historical rivalries even as they were entering a new world. They had inertia on their side, plus successful empires and industries that made them each feel how powerful they were and always would be. It wasn't until the utter destruction of the Second World War, and the empire-breaking aftermath that they started to realize that they had to live together to live at all. It sometimes feels like that's what's going to have to happen in East Asia before these historical burdens are put into perspective. The optimist in me thinks that these countries can change before that level of crisis, but the realist (in political science terms) does not feel that way.

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    2. Concerning German after war history and the brandt kneefall, i think you lack in cynicism. Immediate after war politics were concerned with regaining souvereignty and west integration was seen as the only way towards it. Only when the position was more secure, politics started reaching out towards the east. The aim of this was always preparation for an eventual reunification, for which the consent of the former enemies and victims was likely required. I see the supposed spontaneous kneefall in warschau more as an political gesture that happily coincided with what was the moral thing to do. Conservatives with their political rethorics much more hostile towards the communist regimes and much more prepared to sacrifice prospects of a reunification for a closer tie to the western allies could not do this quite as believably. The picture gets muddier still if you recall that Brandt's fall from power involved an east german spy in his inner circle. As to education about Nazi crimes, this was pushed in the immediate aftermath of the war by the americans, but was swiftly sacrificed for more practical concerns. I doubt politics did very much about it at all, with millions of displaced germans and victims of bombing runs there was no way to gain any political capital out of it. What broke the silence and idealized histories was the 68 youth movement. Whatever moral high ground they earned with this gets a bit more shaky if you consider how loudly they cheered for the latest communist mass murderers of the time.
      As to parallels with inter war europe and after war east asia, i hope you are incorrect. If the US lost texas and california to mexico and some of the northern states to canada, i doubt either state would be powerfull enough to deterr another round of war in the following years. In sum i think it is a bit much to expect any country to apologize for past behavior in the moral sense, if it does not serve their political equilibrium. I dont think there are great many examples where this has happened and i think west germany isnt really a good one either. I am not aware if the British or French made any meaeningfull gestures about their colonial history or the US for any of its meddling in places they really have no moral reason to be. I think the most we can ever hope for is politics staying silent, i have too little clue about japanase politics to know why they cant even manage that.

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    3. Germans also went through a denazification program at the end of WW2, in which they were forced to confront their atrocities. The Japanese did not.

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  5. Hashimoto shares party leadership with Shintaro Ishihara, whose stream-of-consciousness racism has been going on with impunity since 1984. What is interesting is that a lot of Japanese heavy hitters have denounced Hashimoto's statements because Toru took the legalistic arguments of the denialists to perverted absurdity and embarrassed Japan in front of the world leadership. It may have even set back official plans revoke the 1993 statement indefinitely.

    What The Korean fails to realize is that Japan as a land mass will always have more strategic importance to the US than Korea. It seems many policy makers in Washington just want both Japan and Korea to reach a fair, rigorous, and honest agreement between each other so the US can get back to planting more missiles over there facing China and Russia. Furthermore between Okinawa, Ospreys, oil imports and TPP the Japanese have been bending so backwards to American demands that Shinzo Abe will soon need hip surgery.

    Now all you need to do is talk with a few Arabs for 10 minutes to realize that the US can be very sentimental at the expense of economics and strategy but only with very good soft power. I know several Jews who are personally unsettled by evangelical Christian preachers but the political groups that represent them will never say that publicly for obvious reasons. It is going to take a few more years of the Korean Wave to make some of us Americans forget 2002-8 flag burning season. Perhaps spending some of the $40M South Korea spent on trade lobbying in Washington last year towards war crimes awareness would be a start.

    Has the Korean considered running for office?

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    1. As to the last question: after having experienced from front-line politics, my answer is a resounding no.

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  6. I've written several comments about this on the NYTimes, etc. And the response I always get from many Japanese people is that Korea was better off that it was colonized by Japan because it became an advanced society as a result of it. Another response I get is that these women were actually willing prostitutes. I have several Japanese-American friends but I never bring up this topic because it is such a sore topic with me as my grandfather died as a result of Japan's occupation when my mom was only 1 year old. And this is why I stopped buying everything Japanese. It boggles my mind why any Korean would choose to buy Japanese anything when there are so many superior American or Korean products out there. Shame on Japan. Shame on their country and shame on their people.

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    1. Except that it's the truth. Japanese annexation of Korea benefitted Korea immensely: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5UA6hOV8dlk
      http://theyhatelight.tumblr.com/post/43141739772/above-seoul-capital-of-korea-before-japanese
      Korean comfort women were not enslaved, but highly paid prostitutes: http://samscum.tumblr.com/tagged/paid-WWII-prostitutes
      http://samscum.tumblr.com/tagged/prostitutes-NOT-forced-slavery
      http://theyhatelight.tumblr.com/post/50743820670/restoration-party-member-ousted-over-korean
      http://tonchamon.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2013/02/comfort-women-t.html
      Quit drinking the shit your country's been feeding you; http://theyhatelight.tumblr.com/post/44787965093/korean-traditional-alcoholic-drink-made-from-human-crap Rise above your anti-Japanese propaganda.

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    2. Japan did develop its colonies, Korea and Taiwan. That doesn't excuse anything.

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    3. The funny thing is that a lot of Koreans in Korea today don't even hate Japan all that much. Sure, you have your typical Japan-hating youths who crash Japanese servers like 2chan, but many go to Japan and come back saying they liked their experiences and say "no wonder Japan became a rich country."

      What's amazing to me is that a lot of Korean-Americans who are not fluent in Korean and/or don't know much of the history bear a level of hatred against Japan that many of their made-in/raised-in/live-in-Korea counterparts do not have.

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  7. They might have been high payed prostitutes, but now that opens the question of prostitution in general. There's no woman who really volunteers for such a job, unless she's a sexophile or a masochist. They're usually in this because they either had no choice, being too poor and hopeless and comming from a low class, or they are naive and deceived, for no one explains the details of the job and that once you get in, it's hard or even impossible to go away.

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    1. They were NOT highly paid prostitutes. Period.

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  8. Not sure you could argue that Abe really represents Japan's views on the matter considering he doesn't even think he does and that the voter numbers last year were one of the lowest yet. Of course, that still makes the 731 photo absolutely ridiculous.
    There sadly isn't enough awareness of WWII issues in Japan and for some who are aware, it's a relative issue where they see the victors get away with atomic bombings and put themselves in the victim position.

    I'm aware that the people may be to blame for not protesting Japan's attitude towards their past aggression. However, looking at the conditions they were living in and the propaganda in their education I direct my frustration at the past state and military leaders. That frustration is extended to individuals who agree with their views, but not the people who are not aware. There are still so many things that the rest of us are ignorant about after all.

    I'm not trying to defend them, but hope peoples' rage are not misdirected at the wrong people.

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    1. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/23/us-japan-history-women-idUSBRE94M04720130523

      I think this is an interesting read that shows how wrong Hashimoto is.

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    2. Not sure you could argue that Abe really represents Japan's views on the matter considering he doesn't even think he does and that the voter numbers last year were one of the lowest yet.

      Hard to accept the idea that a country's head of government does not represent the country.

      There sadly isn't enough awareness of WWII issues in Japan and for some who are aware, it's a relative issue where they see the victors get away with atomic bombings and put themselves in the victim position.

      And the responsibility for such lack of awareness also falls squarely on the Japanese people.

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    3. Hard to accept the idea that a country's head of government does not represent the country.

      In a representative democracy, the elected head of government hardly, if ever, enjoys a consensus of approval amongst the citizens over whom he/she governs. He may officially represent the country, but his views simply reflect the policies of the party in power.

      Under Bill Clinton, rapprochement with North Korea was happening, but once George W. Bush came to the White House, there was a significant shift in US-DPRK relations. Did either Clinton or Bush represent “America’s views” on North Korea given how different their approaches were? Silly to affirm either given there are many ignorant Americans who don’t even know where North Korea is located, or that there’s a country known as North Korea.

      And the responsibility for such lack of awareness also falls squarely on the Japanese people.

      Here’s an excerpt from historian John W. Dower, whose “War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War” and “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II” are outstanding works on Japan during the Pacific War and what happened in Japan proper following its defeat (I have both books; you may want to check them out one day):

      … apart from the military officer corps, the purge of alleged militarists and ultranationalists that was conducted under the Occupation had relatively small impact on the long-term composition of men of influence in the public and private sectors. The purge initially brought new blood into the political parties, but this was offset by the return of huge numbers of formally purged conservative politicians to national as well as local politics in the early 1950s. In the bureaucracy, the purge was negligible from the outset.... In the economic sector, the purge similarly was only mildly disruptive, affecting less than sixteen hundred individuals spread among some four hundred companies. Everywhere one looks, the corridors of power in postwar Japan are crowded with men whose talents had already been recognized during the war years, and who found the same talents highly prized in the "new" Japan.

      Surely the preservation of such wartime personnel in the bureaucratic apparatus of postwar, “demilitarized” Japan had something to do with the overall attitudes of Japanese education. Or do you say that the continuity of their careers into the Japan that Asia witnessed after 1945 had no effect on what Japanese people learned about the Pacific War?

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  9. The comments on this post calling the survivors of sexual assault and rape "highly paid prostitutes" are disgusting and immoral.

    Women who are deceived, tricked into leaving their homes and then forced to have sex against their wills are not "prostitutes." They were raped. Period.

    I really hope the rape apologists now shut their mouths and scurry back into the holes where they belong.

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  10. The other day, a Japanese TV station did a poll on the Hashimoto comment. An overwhelming majority of the viewers by 3 to 1, said he didn't say anything wrong.

    Yup, Japan changed? LOL.

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  11. TheKorean, hope you’re well. I never did get to follow-up on your response to my post about firearms in America.

    My reply to your post:

    Toru Hashimoto is a mere 43 years old. He cannot be expected to be hampered by war guilt the way Japanese politicians from decades ago were.

    Furthermore, based strictly on this posting, you appear not to have read a clarification of his comments. Here are excerpts of what he wrote, in its English translation (obtained from The Japan Probe website):

    I am totally in agreement that the use of “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War 2 was an inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included. I am totally aware that their great pain and deep hurt were beyond description.

    I also strongly believe that Japan must reflect upon its past offenses with humility and express a heartfelt apology and regret to those women who suffered from the wartime atrocities as comfort women.

    I have never condoned the use of comfort women.

    We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by the Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women. WHAT I INTENDED TO CONVEY IN MY REMARKS WAS THAT A NOT-INSIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF OTHER NATIONS SHOULD ALSO SINCERELY FACE THE FACT THAT THEIR SOLDIERS VIOLATED THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN. IT IS NOT A FAIR ATTITUDE TO BLAME ONLY JAPAN, AS IF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN BY SOLDIERS WERE A PROBLEM UNIQUE TO THE JAPANESE SOLDIERS. This kind of attitude shelves the past offenses that are the very things we must face worldwide if we are truly to aim for a better world where the human rights of women are fully respected. Sexual violation in wartime was not an issue unique to the former Japanese army. The issue existed in the armed forces of the U.S.A., the UK, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union among others during World War 2. It also existed in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

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  12. (continued) Please do not misunderstand, and think that I intend to relativize or justify the issue of comfort women for former Japanese soldiers. Such justification has never been my intention. Whatever soldiers of other nations did will not affect the fact that the violation of the dignity of women by the former Japanese soldiers was intolerable.

    WHAT I REALLY MEANT IN MY REMARKS WAS THAT IT WOULD BE HARMFUL, NOT ONLY TO JAPAN BUT ALSO TO THE WORLD, IF JAPAN’S VIOLATION OF THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN BY SOLDIERS WERE REPORTED AND ANALYZED AS AN ISOLATED AND UNIQUE CASE, AND IF SUCH REPORTS CAME TO BE TREATED AS COMMON KNOWLEDGE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. It would suppress the truth that the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers not only existed in the past but also has yet to be eradicated in today’s world. Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of “sex slaves” or “sex slavery.”

    If only Japan is blamed, because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect.

    JAPAN MUST FACE, AND THOROUGHLY REFLECT UPON, ITS PAST OFFENSES. Any justification of the offenses will not be tolerated. Based on this foundation, I expect other nations in the world to face the issue of the sexual violations in the past wars as their own issue. In April this year, the G8 Foreign Ministers in London agreed upon the “Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.” Based on this accomplishment, I expect that the G8 Summit to be held in this June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, the UK, will become an important occasion where the leaders of G8 will examine how soldiers from nations in the world, including the former Japanese soldiers, have used women for sexual purposes, face and reflect upon the past offenses with humility, solve today’s problems in partnership with one another, and aim for the ideal future.

    .........

    If you think Hashimoto’s comments are offensive, TheKorean, do not google what Shingo Nishimura said as a follow-up. Let’s just say it was bad enough for the Japan Restoration Party, of which Hashimoto is a member, expelled Nishimura as a result.

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  13. And TheKorean, what Hashimoto said about "comfort women" during the Korean War is true. South Korean troops did use a system of sexual services staffed by Korean women virtually identical to the system that the Japanese army used in the Pacific War. It was much smaller, of course, for obvious reasons, and it was short-lived. But it existed.

    And he does have a point. Japanese troops did abuse women, but they were hardly the only ones.

    Soviet troops entering Germany from the eastern campaign were told by their superiors that the women of Germany were theirs for the taking.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/When+hell+descended+on+to+Berlin%3B+Faust's+Metropolis+-+A+History+of...-a060775719

    And US soldiers were not exactly saintly choir boys in liberated France.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/books/rape-by-american-soldiers-in-world-war-ii-france.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1370273719-T9xqKPJY6EJrfjQwF5R/mQ

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/new-book-reveals-dark-side-of-american-soldiers-in-liberated-france-a-902266.html

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    1. Toru Hashimoto is a mere 43 years old. He cannot be expected to be hampered by war guilt the way Japanese politicians from decades ago were.

      Angela Merkel, who was also born nearly decade after World War II, do not seem to have any problem acknowledging Germany's responsibility for that war.

      Furthermore, based strictly on this posting, you appear not to have read a clarification of his comments.

      I did read his dishonest and self-serving "clarification." It is a simple matter to demonstrate the lie: if Hashimoto feels that " the use of “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War 2 was an inexcusable act[,]" why did he suggest to USFJ commander that American GIs in Okinawa make more use of Japanese prostitutes?

      South Korean troops did use a system of sexual services staffed by Korean women virtually identical to the system that the Japanese army used in the Pacific War. It was much smaller, of course, for obvious reasons, and it was short-lived. But it existed.

      Such "services" did not involve officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women. Big difference.

      And he does have a point. Japanese troops did abuse women, but they were hardly the only ones.

      So what?

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  14. 1. So you’re saying Merkel feels just as guilty as any German who was alive to remember the middle-class German citizen forced by the US Army to bury the corpses in the concentration camps? Hashimoto is 43. He cannot feel the exact same way as a Japanese alive today who is old enough to remember the crimes of Japan from the Pacific War.

    (Btw, can you please show me how to make my comments italics and bold?)

    2. Hashimoto said that because he would rather the US GIs stationed in Okinawa use commercial sex services rather than go out and rape civilian women in the area.

    3. "So what?" Hashimoto said in his clarification that it’s unfair (from his perspective as a Japanese person) to single out only the Japanese army. Now, while it is true that the Soviet, American, and other armies did not have a comfort women system, it’s not as if the Japanese were the only ones who wanted sex.

    4. Oh, so because Korean troops didn’t kidnap those Korean civilian women who became the 위안부 of the Korean War, it makes it all right?

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    1. As to bold, use [b] and [/b], but replace the brackets with < > signs. Like this: [b]text to be bolded[/b], but the greater/less than signs. For italics, use [i] and [/i].

      So you’re saying Merkel feels just as guilty as any German who was alive to remember the middle-class German citizen forced by the US Army to bury the corpses in the concentration camps?

      No. But she certainly feels guiltier about her country's past crimes than Hashimoto does for his.

      Hashimoto is 43. He cannot feel the exact same way as a Japanese alive today who is old enough to remember the crimes of Japan from the Pacific War.

      This is a silly point that does no more than to distract. Whether Hashimoto is supposed to feel exactly the same as those from the WWII-era was never the issue.

      Hashimoto said that because he would rather the US GIs stationed in Okinawa use commercial sex services rather than go out and rape civilian women in the area.

      And his saying so demonstrates that his "clarification" was self-serving and dishonest.

      Now, while it is true that the Soviet, American, and other armies did not have a comfort women system, it’s not as if the Japanese were the only ones who wanted sex.

      Again, so what? Mass murders happened throughout human history, but the Holocaust stands out because its mechanical and systemic brutality. Same with mass rape and Imperial Japan's Comfort Women system.

      Oh, so because Korean troops didn’t kidnap those Korean civilian women who became the 위안부 of the Korean War, it makes it all right?

      No, but it is at a fundamentally lower level of odiousness than Imperial Japan's Comfort Women system, for the reason stated above. Your claim that the 위안부 during Korean War and Imperial Japan's Comfort Women were "virtually identical" is simply wrong. Forcing a woman to become a prostitute is far, far more morally repugnant.

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    2. It would be easier if we simply cut to the chase. There is only one relevant question as to the topic of this post: "What was wrong with what Toru Hashimoto said, if at all?" I would be interested in hearing your answer to this question, rather than playing word games.

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  15. No. But she certainly feels guiltier about her country's past crimes than Hashimoto does for his. This is a silly point that does no more than to distract. Whether Hashimoto is supposed to feel exactly the same as those from the WWII-era was never the issue.

    Hashimoto said Japan must express a heartfelt apology and regret to the women who suffered, and such apologies have been issued by previous Japanese prime ministers. What else do you want?

    And his saying so demonstrates that his "clarification" was self-serving and dishonest.

    Would YOU rather a foreign military presence sate its carnal desires with women who sell their bodies or by forcing themselves upon civilian women?

    Again, so what? Mass murders happened throughout human history, but the Holocaust stands out because its mechanical and systemic brutality. Same with mass rape and Imperial Japan's Comfort Women system.

    That’s an entirely arbitrary and subjective statement, TheKorean.

    One of the reasons the Holocaust stands out is indeed how meticulous it was in planning and execution, but at the end of the day, whether people’s lives were taken by gassing or by the use of axes and swords, they died. The Nazis who released gas in the chambers were just as cruel as the warriors of ages past who killed civilians with swords, spears, and lances.

    The Armenian Genocide wasn’t as “mechanical and systemic” in its brutality as the Holocaust, but it was a horrifying campaign of ethnic cleansing.

    Let me ask you ONE question about the 위안부. Do you have evidence ALL of the Korean 위안부 were kidnapped? You did say it was “officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping.” If so, what evidence can you offer?

    No, but it is at a fundamentally lower level of odiousness than Imperial Japan's Comfort Women system, for the reason stated above. Your claim that the 위안부 during Korean War and Imperial Japan's Comfort Women were "virtually identical" is simply wrong. Forcing a woman to become a prostitute is far, far more morally repugnant.

    It was virtually identical for all practical purposes. Korean servicemen and their officers used those women to sate their desires not unlike the Japanese did during the Pacific War at “comfort” stations with Japanese, Korean, and other Asian women.

    What I find striking about how Koreans view the comfort women issue, and you TheKorean are a very good example of it, is that Koreans reduce and simplify what is a complex and admittedly difficult and painful issue into a mere question of “Japan bad, Korea good, innocent, and 불쌍해” when the issue is FAR more complicated.

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    1. What I am seeing here is a slew of word games. Please cut to the chase and answer this question: "What was wrong with what Toru Hashimoto said, if at all?"

      Delete
  16. There are absolutely NO word games, TheKorean.

    Look, I'll make a conciliatory note. I like your blog, have followed it for a while, and am quite grateful for what is a wonderful and educational page that many have surely benefited from.

    However, let's discuss this.

    You said what Imperial Japan was "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping" of the Korean women who became the 위안부. What evidence do you have that all the Korean women who ended up as 위안부 were kidnapped en masse? And who kidnapped them? The Japanese army in Korea? The Japanese Kempeitai? Who?

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    1. If you want to fight the established historical fact, you can fight with the library. I can recommend a number of good books on this topic, if you would like.

      Meanwhile, I don't see why you refuse to answer the question most relevant to this thread: "What was wrong with what Toru Hashimoto said, if at all?" That is the topic of the OP.

      Delete
  17. If you want to fight the established historical fact, you can fight with the library. I can recommend a number of good books on this topic, if you would like.

    It appears to me you lack the evidence to support your claim that Imperial Japan’s authorities conducted what you called "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping" of Korean women who ended up as 위안부. If you had such evidence, you would have by now eagerly provided it. Telling me to go to a library simply won't cut it, TheKorean.

    Sources I've used have shown me that the 위안부 issue is very complex, and far from the simplistic argument espoused by many Koreans and Korean-Americans: “Japan bad, Korea good, innocent victim.”

    Bruce Cumings himself said in his book “Korea’s Place in the Sun” that translators of this book in Korea contacted him asking him if he was intent on his comments in this book that at least some of the 위안부 had been tricked and deceived by Korean brokers. He told them to translate that into Korean exactly as he wrote it. Perhaps they too thought that all the위안부 ended up in those situations because of the Japanese kidnapping them?

    Meanwhile, I don't see why you refuse to answer the question most relevant to this thread: "What was wrong with what Toru Hashimoto said, if at all?" That is the topic of the OP.

    He apologized for his comments and insisted Japan did many bad things for which it should reflect and which Japan must never do again. Do you ask me to find fault with such statements?

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    1. If you had such evidence, you would have by now eagerly provided it.

      I have several books' worth of evidence, and I cannot be bothered to transcribe them all in this comment box. I even offered to point out those books to you, but you claim instead that I have no evidence. The fact that you so quickly declare victory shows that you are not engaging in this discussion with good faith.

      He apologized for his comments and insisted Japan did many bad things for which it should reflect and which Japan must never do again. Do you ask me to find fault with such statements?

      No, I ask you to answer the question posed: "What was wrong with what Toru Hashimoto said, if at all?" If you don't think Hashimoto said anything wrong, just say that instead of dancing around. Given the way you behaved in this discussion so far, I am not sure I am interested to hear you out for irrelevant matters.

      Delete
  18. I have several books' worth of evidence, and I cannot be bothered to transcribe them all in this comment box. I even offered to point out those books to you, but you claim instead that I have no evidence. The fact that you so quickly declare victory shows that you are not engaging in this discussion with good faith.

    Then please by all means, TheKorean, do name at least part of the substantial bibliography you have as evidence that proves Imperial Japan was guilty of “officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping” of Korean women who ended up as 위안부.

    No, I ask you to answer the question posed: "What was wrong with what Toru Hashimoto said, if at all?" If you don't think Hashimoto said anything wrong, just say that instead of dancing around. Given the way you behaved in this discussion so far, I am not sure I am interested to hear you out for irrelevant matters.

    You think this topic is irrelevant, and yet you began it on May 15th by saying “The Korean is having a very busy stretch, but he cannot let this one slide.”

    If you think that soldiers raping women and underage girls is a better alternative than to confine them to prostitution establishments (let’s not talk about the morality of prostitution per se – I don’t like the idea of women selling themselves for money, but camptown prostitution is a reality in many countries and this as you know includes South Korea), a method through which the safety and dignity of civilian women nearby are far less likely to be infringed upon… I don’t know what to tell you.

    Because if you think, TheKorean, that if the camptown prostitutes that South Korea has had for decades have never existed would NOT have led to US GIs raping Korean civilian women… again, I don’t know what to tell you.

    Once again: I don’t mean to imply, insinuate, or claim you’re ignorant on this matter. I earlier said yours is a great page, with much value, and I am grateful to you for it. But this matter is FAR more complex than the simplistic “Japan is bad and Korea is a good, innocent, and helpless victim” that Koreans love to use. It is far more complicated than this. Adhering to such a line, one where everything is reduced to a matter of national honor/dishonor, does a disservice to the very women who are the real victims of this whole thing.

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    1. - Comfort Women by Yoshiaki Yoshimi (2002)
      - 흰 옷고름 입에 물고 by Ito Takashi (1994)
      - Comfort Women: An Unfinished Ordeal, Report of a Mission by Ustinia Dolgopol and Snehal Paranjape, International Commission of Jurists (1994)
      - United Nations Commission on Human Rights, January 1996, Report on the Mission to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the issue of military sexual slavery in wartime.

      There are more, but these should be enough to start you off.

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    2. The Coomaraswamy report and the Dolgopol/Paranjape report are both valuable, but neither does anything to categorically prove "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping."

      Yoshimi Yoshiaki's book is something I can actually take seriously. I've had the book for years, and have always found bitterly ironic that a JAPANESE person was the one who actually found information in Japanese government archives, this while the government of the Republic of Korea, both before and after the 1965 treaty, treated those women like outcasts and sold them down the river.

      But even Yoshimi's seminal work doesn't provide categorical evidence that all the Korean 위안부 ended up as 위안부 due to "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping." Based on Yoshimi's work, I am willing to believe and accept that the senior officials within the Tokyo offices of the Japanese War Ministry knew and approved of the existence of "comfort stations," but I'm yet to see evidence that the Korean version of events: that the Japanese army/police conducted mass kidnappings occurred.

      That leaves us with "흰 옷고름 입에 물고." When you're home tonight, please provide a direct quote giving evidence. I can't find evidence from this book online.

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    3. I don't know what you mean when you say "categorically prove." My sense is that it is a constantly shifting goal post, since you never engaged this discussion in good faith to begin with. I gave the bibliography not just for your benefit, but for the benefit of the readers who come across this thread. Beyond that, I am done spending my time playing word games. Bye.

      Delete
    4. In other words: you have ZERO evidence that ALL of the Korean women who ended up as 위안부 were ALL kidnapped by the Japanese army or police, and you won’t even specify whether it was Japanese troops or Japanese kempeitai.

      For somebody who feels so very strongly about this subject, who claims to have a vast array of resources proving his position, and who speaks to visitors to his blog as having the authority to tell the visitors to go familiarize themselves with the subject, you have not proven your position, TheKorean.

      I really, really, REALLY hope, TheKorean, that your "several books’ worth of evidence" doesn’t include the mendacious and dishonest work "나는 조선사람을 이렇게 잡아갔다 - 나의 전쟁범죄 고백" by the now disgraced and proven fabricator Yoshida Seiji.

      And one last comment. Claiming I "never engaged this discussion in good faith to begin with" is a copout and bluntly, cowardly. I’m dead serious in this discussion. I asked for sources. Twice I’ve told you in full honesty how grateful I am for your blog, which is famous and which is extremely informative.

      You've given NO proof to back up your claim that ALL the Korean women were victims of "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping." Did it happen to at least some of them? I wouldn’t doubt it. But all, as you claim? Never saw any evidence for it. Including on askakorean.blogspot.com.

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    5. You've given NO proof to back up your claim that ALL the Korean women were victims of "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping." Did it happen to at least some of them? I wouldn’t doubt it. But all, as you claim?

      That was never my claim. Just another example of how you are not engaging in this discussion in good faith. If you are actually dead serious, you will try to figure out my position instead of charging at a straw man and declare victory. Come back when you are ready to have a productive discussion.

      Delete
  19. Yesterday, TheKorean, this is what we said to each other:

    Scolaris Coreanica
    South Korean troops did use a system of sexual services staffed by Korean women virtually identical to the system that the Japanese army used in the Pacific War. It was much smaller, of course, for obvious reasons, and it was short-lived. But it existed.

    The Korean
    Such "services" did not involve officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women. Big difference.

    You said here that the Korean 위안부 ended up in their situations through what you said was "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women."

    None of the sources you gave earlier today proves anything about "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women."

    Don't ask me to figure anything out, TheKorean. I'm Korean but I don't do that "알아마쳐봐" thing that Koreans often go by. And don't tell me what I will or will not do if I am "actually dead serious." I've been here yesterday and today because I am serious about this issue.

    Who kidnapped the women? The Japanese army in Korea? Japanese spies? The Japanese Kempeitai? WHO?

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    1. I know what I wrote. Upon reading the six words ("officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women"), however, you somehow claimed that my position was that ALL Korean Comfort Women (= every single one of the estimated 200,000 Comfort Women, without a single exception,) were kidnapped. You repeated this mischaracterization of my position over and over, finally getting to the point where you claim I said "ALL of the Korean women who ended up as 위안부 were ALL kidnapped by the Japanese army or police[.]"

      This is an obvious straw man. The words "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women" do not imply that every single Korean Comfort Women was kidnapped, nor does it imply that the party that engaged in the kidnapping is the Japanese army or police. And it is telling that you backed away from these mischaracterizations after I called you out on them.

      Cut to the chase. If you have the Yoshiaki book, then you already have a pretty solid grasp of the facts. If what you want to say is that there was no officially sanctioned mass kidnapping, say that and back it up. See, here is the difference between you and me: I am asking you to state your position. You are asking me to support a position that I never had. The former is a serious, honest way of engaging in a discussion. The latter is not. Stop wasting my time.

      Finally, it is spelled 알아 맞춰봐.

      Delete
  20. OK, good, now we can start.

    I know what I wrote. Upon reading the six words ("officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women"), however, you somehow claimed that my position was that ALL Korean Comfort Women (= every single one of the estimated 200,000 Comfort Women, without a single exception,) were kidnapped. You repeated this mischaracterization of my position over and over, finally getting to the point where you claim I said "ALL of the Korean women who ended up as 위안부 were ALL kidnapped by the Japanese army or police[.]"

    What methods do YOU determine to say that there was “mass kidnapping” even if you now admit not all were kidnapped? Half? 75%? 25% of all the 위안부?

    I never claimed you said that. I was pressing you for clarification and you have STILL refused to answer WHO did the kidnapping? I wonder why you refuse to specify who the kidnappers were. Surely you have evidence the Japanese did it (although your bibliography doesn’t prove that).

    This is an obvious straw man. The words "officially sanctioned, mass kidnapping of women" do not imply that every single Korean Comfort Women was kidnapped, nor does it imply that the party that engaged in the kidnapping is the Japanese army or police. And it is telling that you backed away from these mischaracterizations after I called you out on them.

    Again: who did the kidnapping?

    I backed away from nothing.

    And I find it strange that you were so indifferent to my mentioning of how the South Korean military employed a comfort women system virtually identical to the one Japan’s military used. Korean women were also used, you know. But apparently you’re yet another Korean nationalist to whom women’s rights only matter if the violator of those rights isn’t Korean.

    Cut to the chase. If you have the Yoshiaki book, then you already have a pretty solid grasp of the facts. If what you want to say is that there was no officially sanctioned mass kidnapping, say that and back it up. See, here is the difference between you and me: I am asking you to state your position. You are asking me to support a position that I never had. The former is a serious, honest way of engaging in a discussion. The latter is not. Stop wasting my time.

    The Japanese army high command was aware of the comfort stations and didn’t oppose it, but there’s no evidence as far as I know that the Japanese army ordered its men to kidnap Korean women.

    You never had the position all women were kidnapped. Then clarify how many were and tell me at what cutoff the Japanese must be blamed if not all of them were kidnapped by the Japanese.

    Ironic you claim I’m guilty of straw men and of not wanting to debate seriously when you ask readers to figure out what you’re thinking.

    Finally, it is spelled 알아 맞춰봐.

    Thank you. Now let’s see the evidence you have from what’s left of your bibiliography, because Yoshiaki’s work, however necessary, doesn’t prove the Japanese military conducted the kidnappings on a mass scale and because Coomaraswamy report and the Dolgopol/Paranjape reports don’t prove that either.

    And I hope with all my being you don’t use Yoshida Seiji’s claim that he witnessed the forced abductions of Korean women in Cheju Island. It never happened.

    And again I ask: who did the kidnapping, and what evidence do you have that it was “mass kidnapping?”

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You never had the position all women were kidnapped.

      Funny, I remember that just a few comments ago, you were claiming that I had the position that all Korean Comfort Women were kidnapped by the Japanese police or army. Now you say I never had that position. Apparently, you know better about what I am thinking than I do about myself. Why don't you just answer all the questions for me then? It is tiresome to deal with a dishonest interlocutor.

      Delete
  21. Here's what I wrote earlier:

    I never claimed you said that. I was pressing you for clarification and you have STILL refused to answer WHO did the kidnapping? I wonder why you refuse to specify who the kidnappers were. Surely you have evidence the Japanese did it (although your bibliography doesn’t prove that).

    Then I wrote:

    You never had the position all women were kidnapped. Then clarify how many were and tell me at what cutoff the Japanese must be blamed if not all of them were kidnapped by the Japanese.

    Given English isn't your first language, you may have missed the nuance of the use of the word "then" as the second sentence in this paragraph. That would mean that "You never had the position all women were kidnapped" would have the meaning of, "ah, then that's what you meant."

    Accusations of bad logic, dishonesty, and not writing in good faith. Suggestions I go to a library, and presentations of insufficient works as "evidence." Claims I "backed up" when I did no such thing, and demands I clarify my position.

    And yet throughout this entire exchange, you refuse to answer the most basic questions - a tactic you've continued into your last post.

    Again: for somebody who feels so strongly about this issue, to the extent you couldn't "let this one slide" despite your "busy stretch," you sure are good at deflecting direct questions. Perhaps it's a cultural thing. You Koreans from Korea are, in my experience, the types who often don't answer questions directly. Your request I "figure out" your position is very typical of Koreans from Korea. Ironic, given you demand I be direct yet you deliberately fail to do so.

    Still waiting for your evidence, and still waiting to see what criteria you use to say there was "mass kidnapping" if now you admit NOT ALL KOREAN 위안부 WERE KIDNAPPED.

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    1. And I'm also still waiting for your answer: who were the people who kidnapped the Korean women who became the 위안부.

      Delete
  22. I can't help but feel that you are being far too ungenerous to the average Japanese citizen. To claim that an entire people is guilty of being mean-spirited and of insulting Comfort Women because of what two politicians said is not reasonable.

    Yes, it's true that these two men were elected into office. However, that does not mean that the people can be equated with the Prime Minister or the mayor of Osaka. For instance, Prime Minister Abe ran on several campaign promises while he ran for office. He ran on the promise to revive the Japanese economy by pursuing monetary expansionist policies (in so many words). He also ran on the promise to be a more assertive leader when it comes to territorial disputes with China, Korea, and Russia. He political campaign was not based on - "Let's insult comfort women."

    The people of Japan desired a political change. And they elected the man whom they felt reflected that change that they wanted. The other things, the bit about comfort women and the 731 thing, that just happened to come with the whole package.

    If you are serious about blaming all of Japan for what a politician says, then we must be consistent with this. President Obama has pursued and expanded America's drone warfare, which has resulted in the deaths of enemy combatants as well as innocent civilians. Therefore, seeing how he was voted into office by majority vote, all Americans are responsible for the innocent deaths that have resulted from drone attacks. Obviously that doesn't make sense. Neither does your assertion that "Japan didn't really change."

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  23. If you are serious about blaming all of Japan for what a politician says, then we must be consistent with this. President Obama has pursued and expanded America's drone warfare, which has resulted in the deaths of enemy combatants as well as innocent civilians. Therefore, seeing how he was voted into office by majority vote, all Americans are responsible for the innocent deaths that have resulted from drone attacks. Obviously that doesn't make sense. Neither does your assertion that "Japan didn't really change."

    I agree. This is what I wrote yesterday at another part of this thread, but TheKorean may have not had the opportunity to reply:

    In a representative democracy, the elected head of government hardly, if ever, enjoys a consensus of approval amongst the citizens over whom he/she governs. He may officially represent the country, but his views simply reflect the policies of the party in power.

    Under Bill Clinton, rapprochement with North Korea was happening, but once George W. Bush came to the White House, there was a significant shift in US-DPRK relations. Did either Clinton or Bush represent “America’s views” on North Korea given how different their approaches were? Silly to affirm either given there are many ignorant Americans who don’t even know where North Korea is located, or that there’s a country known as North Korea.


    The government’s officials do not always represent the thoughts and desires of those who elect them. The latter may (very naively or even foolishly) think that’s what the former’s job is, but the nature of politics is the preservation of one’s power, and the people’s wishes be damned. Sure, candidates who get into office often do have genuine agreements with what sections of the voting populations believe in/want. But Toru Hashimoto has his views, and does he represent all of Japan’s people? Not any more than Naoto Kan’s tearful apology did – after all, many revisionists in Japan were and are utterly opposed to any Japanese government apologies to Korea. But as prime minister, Kan apologized nonetheless.

    ReplyDelete

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