Return to Asian Geopolitics indexpage
Return to Japan indexpage
Return to top of page
Sound and Fury: Does Abe’s Constitutional Revision Really Matter?
By Ellis Krauss
Much attention has been paid recently to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire to revise the country’s constitution in what would be the first and only change since it was adopted in 1947. The focus especially has been on his intent to change Article 9, which prohibits the country from engaging in war and maintaining armed forces. Indeed, there has been much domestic polarization as well as anger and consternation in some parts of East Asia over potential changes to Article 9. The two Koreas and China, which suffered so much at the hands of the brutal Japanese Army in the Pacific War, oppose a more assertive or armed Japan for both sincere and self-interested political and strategic reasons. Undeterred by domestic and international concerns, after Abe was re-elected for another term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and thus as prime minister in September, he made clear it that he will push ahead to revise Article 9.
[Abe Shinzo] [Constitution] [Article 9] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Japan Ratchets up Rhetoric Over Maritime Radar Incident
By Yu Yong-weon
December 26, 2018 12:58
Japanese Defense Ministry in a statement on Tuesday insisted that a Korean Navy destroyer deliberately pointed a fire-control radar at a nearby Japanese spy plane as it was rescuing a North Korean fishing boat.
Tokyo said the Korean destroyer "aimed its radar several times at the Maritime Self-Defense Force P-1 patrol plane" and denied Seoul's claim that the aircraft had been performing unusual maneuvers such as flying directly over the destroyer.
On Monday, Ahn Sang-min of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here had told reporters, "Let me clearly state that the Navy did not operate its fire-control radar with the purpose of tracking the Japanese patrol plane" but was searching for the North Korean boat, which had sent a distress signal.
The Navy quizzed the captain and crew of the destroyer several times and confirmed that they never activated the fire-control radar. "If the radar had been activated, traces of its transmission should have remained in the electronic warfare equipment of the destroyer, but none were found."
The ministry did not respond to Japan's latest claim.
S. Korea and Japan unable to reach agreement on compensation for forced labor victims
Posted on : Dec.25,2018 15:01 KST Modified on : Dec.25,2018 15:01 KST
Victims announce plans to seize Japanese firm’s assets in South Korea
Asia-Oceania Bureau Chief Kenji Kanasugi of the Japanese Foreign Ministry enters the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Dec. 24 while ignoring reporters’ questions. (Park Jong-shik, staff photographer)
South Korean and Japanese government officials were reportedly unable to bridge their differences on Dec. 24 in their first round of discussions regarding a South Korean Supreme Court ruling ordering compensation to victims of forced conscription during the Japanese occupation.
Representatives of the victims announced plans to initiate compulsory execution procedures to seize Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal assets in South Korea, while calling on the company to quickly begin discussions.
In a meeting lasting around 90 minutes that afternoon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) building in Seoul’s Doryeom neighborhood, MOFA’s Northeast Asia Bureau Chief Kim Yong-gil and Asia-Oceania Bureau Chief Kenji Kanasugi of the Japanese Foreign Ministry discussed major issues in bilateral relations, including the court ruling on compensation for forced conscription.
[SK Japan] [Comfort women]
Japan lashes out at S. Korean naval vessel target radar locking onto Japanese patrol plane in East Sea
Posted on : Dec.22,2018 15:54 KST Modified on : Dec.22,2018 15:54 KST
S. Korea responds by saying radar was activated during a search and rescue mission
The South Korean Navy’s Gwanggaeto the Great destroyer, which took aims with its fire direction STIR 180 naval radar at a P-1 patrol plane that belongs to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s 4th aviation group.
The Japanese government issued a strong protest after a South Korean naval vessel in the East Sea locked its targeting radar on a patrol plane operated by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.
“At 3 pm on Dec. 20, a South Korean destroyer aimed its fire control radar at a Japanese P-1 patrol plane that was conducting surveillance operations above the waters near the Noto Peninsula [in central Honshu],” Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said during a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo on the evening of Dec. 21.
“Aiming fire control radar is the action taken before opening fire. It’s an extremely dangerous action that could provoke an unexpected incident. In consideration of the gravity of this situation, we strongly protested to the South Korean government,” Iwaya said.
[Japan SK] [Friction]
North Korea criticizes Japan for conducting test of U.S.-Japan interceptor
Posted : 2018-12-22 23:20
Updated : 2018-12-22 23:20
This file photo shows U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Japan Ministry of Defense and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) conducting the first Standard Missile-3 Block IIA intercept test on Feb. 3, 2017, off the west coast of Hawaii. Yonhap (Korea Times file)
North Korea's state media on Saturday criticized Japan for conducting a test of a new missile interceptor system, which is being co-funded by the United States and Japan, arguing that the move could chill the "peace atmosphere" on the Korean Peninsula.
The U.S. and Japan have jointly developed the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, and they successfully conducted a test of the new interceptor in Hawaii earlier this month.
In an English-language commentary, the North's Korean Central News Agency said, "Japan's incitement of the bellicose atmosphere is a serious act of harassing peace to chill the peace atmosphere on the Korean peninsula and the region and strain the situation."
"It is the revelation of the crafty trick of the Japanese reactionaries to further ratchet up the tension on the Korean peninsula and meet their own interests," the commentary said.
The commentary also criticized Japan for moving to refit its helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers, but there was no mention of the U.S. in the commentary.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work to end the North's nuclear weapons program at a landmark summit in June, but there has been little progress on the details of how to meet that goal. Kim and Trump are seeking to hold another meeting early next year. (Yonhap)
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Tension]
The depths of Tokyo’s strategic dilemma
21 December 2018
Author: Ryo Sahashi, Kanagawa University
Shinzo Abe made a two-day state visit to China in October 2018, the first in seven years by a Japanese prime minister. Tokyo and Beijing agreed on three principles during the visit: to move from competition towards cooperation, to avoid becoming threats to one another, and to promote a free and fair global trade regime.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 26 October 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Lintao Zhang/Pool).
As first steps towards achieving these principles, both governments together signed 12 documents and 52 memoranda of understanding. They reached noteworthy agreements on financial cooperation, including a currency swap agreement; private sector cooperation in third countries; innovation, including intellectual property rights; and maritime search and rescue.
[Abe Shinzo] [China confrontation] [Dilemma] [Trump] [Friction] [Allegiance]
Why Bannon showing Abe love is cringeworthy
by William Pesek
Dec 19, 2017
Is Shinzo Abe the pioneer of Trumpism? Japan’s prime minister is that and more in the worldview of Donald Trump whisperer Steve Bannon, who arrived in Tokyo on Sunday to laud Abe’s drive to “re-instill the spirit of nationalism.”
Bannon’s speech to the Japanese Conservative Political Action Conference was more like a sales pitch for consulting contracts than fact-based look at Nagatacho realities. After all, the former Trump adviser is licking deep wounds from a stinging defeat in the southern U.S. state of Alabama. His favored candidate — a kook accused of child molestation — lost a Dec. 12 election for a Senate seat. What better way to forget than hawk your retrograde ideas — and services — 11,000 km away?
[Abe Shinzo] [Steve Bannon] [Anti-Trump]
Japan seeks drones, subs, F-35 jets as part of $243 billion defense-spending plan
By: Mike Yeo
MELBOURNE, Australia — Japan intends to procure more F-35 fighter jets, shipborne unmanned aircraft and submarines, according to newly released midterm defense guidelines and an associated defense plan.
The long-awaited documents, released Tuesday afternoon Tokyo time and formally approved by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, would see Japan spend almost $243 billion on defense over the next five fiscal years, which in Japan begins April 1 and ends March 31 the following year.
[Japanese remilitarization] [Military expenditure]
“There’s no such thing as a defense aircraft carrier”
Posted on : Dec.19,2018 16:31 KST Modified on : Dec.19,2018 16:31 KST
Japanese military expert underlines the contradictions in Tokyo’s revised defense guidelines
Japanese military expert Tetsuo Maeda
On Dec. 18, the Japanese cabinet approved the revised National Defense Program Guidelines and a midterm defense plan and announced that it was upholding its “exclusively defense-oriented military policy” that has guided Japan since World War II. This policy limits military action to minimum activity necessary for defending against an attack.
But even inside Japan, the revision to the defense guidelines continues to be criticized for not adhering to the principle of exclusively defense-oriented military activity in Japan’s current “Peace Constitution.”
“This revision of the defense guidelines is different from before. The government claims that its ‘exclusively defense-oriented policy’ remains unchanged, but there are numerous contradictions,” said Japanese military expert Tetsuo Maeda, 79, in a telephone interview with the Hankyoreh.
Hankyoreh (Hani): There’s a big debate about whether the revised defense guidelines are in violation of the principle of exclusively defense-oriented policy.
Japan finalizes new National Defense Program Guideline
Posted on : Dec.19,2018 16:29 KST Modified on : Dec.19,2018 16:29 KST
Move to increase long-range strike capabilities signals intent to gain air supremacy
The Izumo-class helicopter destroyer that the Japanese government is planning on converting into an aircraft carrier. (Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force website)
The Japanese government finalized new a National Defense Program Guideline (NDPG) that includes a large-scale increase in the long-range strike capabilities of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).
Analysts argued that the move will have the effect of gutting the principle of “exclusive defense orientation” (exercising a minimum of military force only in situations where Japan is under attack), suggesting the separation of roles between the “sword” of US Forces Japan and the “shield” of JSDF could be completely obliterated.
The Henoko Base Project: Okinawa’s Tamaki Government at the Brink
December 15, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 24 | Number 2
Since the death of Okinawan Governor Onaga Takeshi on 8 August, the Henoko base construction plan has been in flux. With the issues coming to a head, the media in Japan and the world shows ever less interest, easing the way for the Abe government to have its way. Crucial phases in the long-running contest between state and prefecture have been noted many times, but perhaps none is comparable to today as the commencement of works to reclaim the base site on Oura Bay is imminent.1
Ethnic Koreans in Japan exposed to growing hatred
Posted : 2018-12-11 17:25
Updated : 2018-12-12 10:32
Yeo Geo-ni, the chief of the Korean Residents Union in Japan, speaks during an interview held at its headquarters, Tokyo, Thursday. / Joint Press Corps
By Park Ji-won, Joint Press Corps
Ethnic Koreans in Japan are being exposed to growing hatred amid rocky Korea-Japan relations, according to Yeo Geo-ni, chief of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (KRUJ), the largest ethnic Korean organization in Japan.
Yeo said that "hate speech" was spreading online as well as in street protests by Japanese far right activists.
"The hate speech against us has increased a little bit. A large majority of it is on social media," Yeo said during a meeting with Korean reporters based in Japan, Thursday.
When discussing right wing organizations' rallies at KRUJ events, Yeo referred to the police presence outside noting it was needed as the protesters "come every week, even on weekends."
His remarks came amid strained relations between Seoul and Tokyo after South Korea's top court ordered a Japanese steel firm, two months ago, to compensate Korean defendants for their forced labor during colonial rule. Tokyo went all-out to condemn the decision saying it was against the 1965 treaty that established diplomatic relations between the two countries. The South Korean Prime Minister expressed "regret" over Japan's move.
Japan to stop buying Huawei, ZTE equipment
Posted : 2018-12-09 14:22
Updated : 2018-12-09 14:46
A man walks by a Huawei logo at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China, Dec. 6. Reuters
By Jung Min-ho
Japan is set to ban government use of telecom products from Huawei and ZTE over national security concerns surrounding the Chinese companies.
Relevant government agencies will likely reach an agreement as early as Monday to ban the companies from taking part in government procurement, according to local media.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the move was aimed at preventing cyberattacks and the leaking of confidential information.
"Ensuring the cyber security of government agencies has become increasingly important. We will deal with the matter from various perspectives," he said.
Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya also pledged efforts to ensure security.
The move comes days after Meng Wanzhou, 46, the chief financial officer and daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver, from where she may well be extradited to the United States. She is suspected of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The news has touched off a diplomatic firestorm between the two world's largest economies as well as their allies.
In recent months, governments in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand have banned the use of equipment from the Chinese companies in their 5G infrastructure rollout. Other countries, including Canada, are considering the same move.
[China confrontation] [Huawei] [ZTE] [US dominance]
Japanese government to name new aircraft carrier “multi-purpose operation destroyer”
Posted on : Dec.7,2018 16:17 KST Modified on : Dec.7,2018 16:17 KST
Cabinet likely to adopt revised national defense guidelines this month
he Izumo-class helicopter destroyer than the Japanese government is planning on converting into an aircraft carrier. (website of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force)
The Japanese government and its ruling party have decided that the Izumo-class helicopter destroyer that’s being converted into an aircraft carrier will be called a “multi-purpose operation destroyer.” Despite the creative nomenclature, however, the ship will remain for all intents and purposes an aircraft carrier.
During a meeting on Dec. 5, members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito parties who are revising the National Defense Program Guidelines agreed to call the converted destroyer a “multi-purpose operation destroyer,” Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported on Dec. 6. The National Defense Program Guidelines outline Japan’s national defense policy, and the revised version will probably be adopted by the Japanese cabinet in the middle of this month. The Japanese government is expected to use this revision of the defense guidelines to officially announce the operation of aircraft carriers.
Kansas Recalls License Plates Offensive to Japanese-Americans
By Emily S. Rueb
Nov. 30, 2018
Ever since the first laws requiring license plates were approved in the early 1900s, states have been vigilant over what they say.
Most, if not all, states keep a blacklist of words or acronyms that may embarrass or offend other motorists, like ASS, XXX or WTF. Mostly, these lists apply to vanity plate requests. But occasionally, the computers assigning the identification numbers are to blame.
In October, Kansas recalled 731 license plates with the letter combination JAP, after a group of Japanese-Americans pushed to remove them from the road.
The drive originated in California more than a year ago when Keith Kawamoto, a retired refinery mechanic, spotted a gray Nissan sedan from Kansas tagged “442 JAP” while sputtering in stop-and-go traffic in Culver City, Calif., where he lives.
In a telephone interview this week, Mr. Kawamoto described himself as “easygoing.”
“But one thing that sets me off,” he said, “is the J word.”
[Racism] [Diaspora] [Hysteria]
Return to top of page
Japanese government refuses comfort women damages lawsuit for third time
Posted on : Nov.28,2018 16:46 KST Modified on : Nov.28,2018 16:46 KST
Documents must be delivered to Japanese court for civil lawsuit in S. Korea to begin
Passersby look at a comfort women memorial near the Franciscan Education Center in Seoul on Nov. 4. The memorial was erected thanks to the efforts of 46 South Korean schools, and features 259 copper plates engraved with the names of victims, including 19 residing in China, North Korea and Japan. (Shin So-young, staff reporter)
For the third time now, the Japanese government has refused to accept a complaint and other documents related to a damages lawsuit filed by former comfort women. The lawsuit by the elderly victims has been on hold for nearly two years now.
Anger in Japan as Korea Dismantles Sex Slaves Fund
By Kim Jin-myung
November 22, 2018 13:01
The government on Wednesday formally started dismantling a foundation set up under an agreement with Japan to compensate victims of wartime sexual slavery.
"The agreement was signed without reflecting the views of victims," the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said. "We are starting the process of dismantling the foundation in accordance with the views of the victims."
The government has settled for an uneasy halfway house whereby it will not cancel the bilateral agreement, which was struck in murky circumstances by the Park Geun-hye administration, but will not honor it either.
[Comfort women] [Park Geun-hye]
Moon says S. Korea and Japan can “become true friends” if historical differences are settled
Posted on : Nov.20,2018 17:17 KST Modified on : Nov.20,2018 17:17 KST
S. Korean president says both countries “must confront the truth”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in
President Moon Jae-in said on Nov. 19 that South Korea and Japan could “become true friends who open up to each other” if both sides “firmly establish justice and principles by stepping into the other side’s shoes.”
The message was communicated in a written celebratory address for a Korea-Japan/Japan-Korea Cooperation Committee joint general meeting held that day at the President Hotel in Seoul’s Jung (Central) district.
“The era of colonization represents a painful time for South Korea and Japan alike, but that does not mean we can ignore the truth,” President Moon said.
“We must confront the truth, if only for the sake of sustainable and robust South Korea-Japan relations,” he continued.
[Japanese colonialism] [Japan SK]
Korea to shut down 'comfort women' foundation
Posted : 2018-11-21 14:08
Updated : 2018-11-21 15:45
A rally participant sheds tears as she attends a weekly "Wednesday demonstration" near a "comfort woman" statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap
South Korea announced Wednesday that it will close down a Japan-funded foundation working to support domestic victims of Japan's wartime sex slavery.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which governs the foundation, made the announcement in a press release that it will carry out a legal process to dismantle the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation.
"We, along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have consulted with the relevant offices on how to handle the foundation and collected various opinions. Based on the current situations of the foundation and the review results, we have decided to close it down," it said.
"We will try our best in setting up policies to recover the honor and dignity of the victims," Minister Jin Sun-mee said.
The planned shutdown is seen as Seoul's move to effectively discard a 2015 accord between the neighboring countries on the "comfort women" issue.
“Sold For 40 Yen”: Nishioka Tsutomu’s “Evidence” on the “Comfort Women” Proven Groundless
November 10, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 22 | Number 1
On September 5, Nishioka Tsutomu, a former professor at Tokyo Christian University, took the stand for the first time at Tokyo District Court. Former Asahi reporter Uemura Takashi had filed a libel lawsuit against Nishioka and Bungei Shunju in January 2015.
Mr. Nishioka leaving court following his September 5th testimony. Photo by Takanami Atsushi
For the first time, Nishioka admitted to having misquoted from the complaint to the court by former comfort women, as well as an article in a Korean newspaper, both of which Nishioka used as evidence of Uemura’s “fabrication.” He also admitted to adding text not found in the original documents. Nishioka’s claim of Uemura’s “fabrication” in his articles was shaken by the evidence submitted to the court.
Mr. Uemura talking with supporters at court following his September 5th testimony. Photo by Takanami Atsushi
In 1991, Uemura published articles in the Asahi Shimbun about Kim Hak-sun, the first Korean survivor of the comfort women system to come forward publicly and tell her story.
Listen to the Governor of Okinawa
The new governor of Okinawa wants to persuade Washington to stop a controversial base construction project. Will Washington listen?
By Alexis Dudden, November 13, 2018
The East China Sea seems to have disappeared. Not literally of course, yet only a few years ago around the centennial commemorations of the beginning of World War I, talking heads named the body of water between China and Japan as a likely spot for the outbreak of World War III. Several islands disputed among China, Taiwan, and Japan had become a magnet for risky seaborne maneuvers, and the air defense identification zones above them had dangerous overlaps. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intimated that his country and China resembled Germany and France 100 years earlier, and Henry Kissinger wagered that a Tokyo-Beijing clash in these waters would be a catalyst for greater conflict to come.
Now, in the wake of centennial celebrations commemorating the end of the war that was supposed to end all wars, militarized activity in a separate but connecting sea has dominated the intervening years. More than half a dozen countries have been vigorously contesting territory in the South China Sea. At the same time, the issues that made the East China Sea so volatile in 2014 have only deepened and intensified—and now intersect with the South China Sea conflict.
Abe plans on visiting WWII memorial in Darwin, Australia
Posted on : Nov.14,2018 16:13 KST Modified on : Nov.14,2018 16:13 KST
Duplicitous Japanese prime minister expresses remorse to the West while snubbing Asia
An image of the Japanese blitz on the Australian city of Darwin that occurred on Feb. 19, 1942
On the morning of Feb. 19, 1942, Japanese bombers appeared in the sky above Darwin, a port city in northern Australia. In the blitz by 188 planes based on four aircraft carriers, more than 250 soldiers from Australia and other Allied countries lost their lives. The attack is known as Australia’s Pearl Harbor, having taken place about two months after the bombing of the American naval base. By destroying the Allies’ logistics base at Darwin, the Japanese hoped to eliminate an obstacle to their invasion of Southeast Asia.
During a trip to Australia from Nov. 16 to 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be visiting Darwin. This is the first visit to the city by a Japanese prime minister since Japan’s defeat in World War II. The Japanese press reported that Abe will be visiting a memorial to the fallen with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. An analyst with Kyodo News said that Abe hopes to use his visit to emphasize the two countries’ reconciliation and their “strategic partnership.”
[Abe Shinzo] [Australia] [Double standards] [Racism]
Japanese far right no match for BTS Army’s devotion
Posted on : Nov.14,2018 16:20 KST Modified on : Nov.14,2018 16:20 KST
Attempts by the Japanese press and far right failed to prevent massive crowds from gathering at the K-pop sensation BTS’s first concert in Japan. On the evening of Nov. 13, the Tokyo Dome flooded with the group’s fandom, which refers to itself as the “BTS Army.” The crowd extended all the way to the nearby Suidobashi Station. On the outskirts of the crowd, however, were a few far-right protesters denouncing the concert and the band, one of whose members was photographed wearing a shirt depicting an atomic bomb blast last year. (by Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent)
[Japanese colonialism] [BTS]
BTS apologizes over T-shirt, Nazi hat
Posted : 2018-11-14 16:45
Updated : 2018-11-14 16:46
BTS performs "Fake Love" at the Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in May. Korea Times file
By Park Jin-hai
K-pop boy band BTS, which has been under fire recently for a controversial A-bomb T-shirt and Nazi hat its members wore in the past, has officially apologized for those incidents.
The apology issued by Big Hit Entertainment, Tuesday night, stated the seven-member boy band and their agency had "no intention to cause distress or pain to anyone," and "would like to offer our sincerest apologies to anyone who has suffered pain, distress and discomfort due to our shortcomings."
BTS, currently in Japan as part of their "Love Yourself" Asia tour, caused a stir over a T-shirt bearing a photo of Koreans celebrating their 1945 liberation from Japanese occupation in one corner and another showing the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945.
[Japanese colonialism] [BTS]
Bangtan Boys' Japan Shows Canceled
By Choi Eun-kyung, Yoon Soo-jung
November 12, 2018 12:12
Japan's TV Asahi has canceled an appearance by Korean superstar boy band Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, on its show "Music Station" at the last minute over an offensive t-shirt a band member was wearing, prompting all their other year-end appearances in Japan to be scrapped as well.
Producers at "Music Station" said last week it canceled the gig over a T-shirt BTS member Ji-min wore on a world tour last year, which showed an atomic bomb explosion superimposed over the celebration of Korea's independence from Japan.
BTS were also supposed to appear NHK's year-end music festival, Japan's premier special program featuring its top singers and airing on New Year's Eve every year, along with other K-pop stars like TVXQ and TWICE.
But following the T-shirt scandal, some Japanese viewers vowed to boycott the show if BTS appeared.
Other recent bilateral spats may also have played a role, including a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Korea ordering Japanese businesses to compensate Koreans who were forced to labor for them during World War II.
Between 2012 and 2016, when bilateral relations soured due to the controversy over Japan's claim to Korea's Dokdo islets and compensation for Korean women forced into sexual slavery by imperial Japan, no Korean musical acts appeared on the NHK show either.
BTS fans around the world are buying T-shirts that Ji-min wore, and the incident has gone viral on Twitter. Other K-pop groups are wondering if their scheduled appearances on Japanese TV might also be canceled.
A staffer at JYP Entertainment said, "Unless there is a breakthrough, it seems we'd be in trouble whether we choose to appear on the NHK show or not."
North Korea takes swipe at Japan over 'denial of past sins'
Posted : 2018-11-11 13:32
Updated : 2018-11-11 13:32
North Korea's Rodong Sinmun lambasted Japan on Sunday for its "denial of past sins" committed against wartime forced labor victims.
"The Korean people will definitely exact an apology and compensation from Japan for its past sins," the North's official newspaper said, referring to Japan's recent protest over the South Korean Supreme Court's ruling on Oct. 30 to order a Japanese steelmaker to compensate four South Koreans for wartime forced labor and unpaid work.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
BTS performance in Japan canceled due to member wearing t-shirt related to Korean independence
Posted on : Nov.10,2018 15:16 KST Modified on : Nov.10,2018 15:16 KST
Cancellation sparks coverage on Japan’s history of war crimes by international press
Key news outlets such as the BBC covered the cancellation of a BTS performance on a Japanese TV program. (screenshot from BBC website)
News outlets around the world reported on the cancelation of a televised performance in Japan by the popular South Korean boy band BTS (Bangtan Boys).
Along with reports that the performance was cancelled because of a T-shirt worn by one of the members with Korean independence slogans, the international press also provided details on the history of Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea – turning the incident into an occasion for sharing Japan’s history of war crimes with the rest of the world.
CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera were among the major overseas news outlets scrambling to report on Nov. 9 on the cancellation of BTS’s scheduled performance on the TV show “Music Station.”
Previously, a Japanese news outlet reported that BTS member Jimin had worn a T-shirt showing a photograph of an exploding atomic bomb along with phrases related to independence. Conscious of anti-Korean sentiment in Japan, the station moved to cancel the scheduled BTS performance.
S. Korean prime minister addresses Japan’s attitude on forced labor ruling
Posted on : Nov.8,2018 17:21 KST Modified on : Nov.8,2018 17:21 KST
Lee Nak-yeon expresses “deep regret,” calling Japan’s criticism “neither appropriate nor wise”
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon
On Nov. 7, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon expressed his “deep regret” for Japanese leaders’ criticism of the South Korean Supreme Court’s recent ruling about compensation for forced laborers, calling this criticism “neither appropriate nor wise.”
For the first time since the forced labor ruling was made, South Korea’s prime minister, the Blue House and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have all openly expressed regrets about the Japanese government. These remarks are taken to express the government’s resolution to not sit by idly while Japanese government officials make aggressive comments, exemplified by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s slamming the ruling as an “act of violence” and “defiance of the international order.”
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Japan's Korea bashing over forced labor ruling 'goes too far'
Posted : 2018-11-07 17:14
Updated : 2018-11-07 19:27
Lee Chun-sik, 94, center, the last surviving plaintiff in a compensation lawsuit filed by four Korean forced laborers against Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal, sheds tears outside the Supreme Court in southern Seoul after winning the suit. / Yonhap
By Park Ji-won
The prime minister and foreign ministry expressed deep regret Wednesday over high-ranking Japanese officials' continued remarks against a court decision that ordered a Japanese company to compensate South Korean forced laborers during Japan's colonial rule of Korea.
Insiders say Japan has gone too far over the issue.
"I express deep regret about the Japanese leaders who continue to make aggressive remarks about the South Korean Supreme Court's decision for forced labor victims during the Japanese occupation period. The remarks of those leaders are neither legitimate nor wise," Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said in a statement.
Lee added that "I express regret for a situation where I had to come forward to speak about Japanese leaders making this issue into a diplomatic dispute."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed regret over Japan's reaction for the first time since the decision was made. On Oct. 30, the Supreme Court ordered Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal to pay 100 million won ($89,445) to each of four plaintiffs. It retained the adjudication of the ruling in 2012, that the 1965 bilateral treaty does not terminate individuals' rights to claim damages.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced Labour] 
Korea-Japan standoffs deepen over WWII forced labor
Posted : 2018-11-07 10:03
Updated : 2018-11-07 14:26
A diplomatic spat between South Korea and Japan has intensified this week amid Tokyo's strong protest against a recent Seoul court ruling on the wartime forced labor issue.
The two sides traded accusations against each other publicly. Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono opened fire again on Monday with a media interview in which he urged the South Korean government to resolve the problem.
"It's obvious: they are responsible for taking care of all the claims from the Korean people. So that's what they have to do," he told Bloomberg News. "That's what's in the 1965 agreement."
He was referring to the pact between the two countries on "the settlement of problems related to property, claims and economic cooperation" over Japan's brutal colonization of Korea from 1910-45.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Foreign ministry recommended dismissal of constitutional appeal of comfort women survivors
Posted on : Nov.6,2018 16:50 KST Modified on : Nov.6,2018 16:50 KST
MOFA concluded that 2015 agreement did not violate rights of victims
The weekly Wednesday protests calling for the resolution of the comfort women issue were held again on Oct. 31 in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Comfort woman survivor Lee Ok-seon is seen wiping her tears next to a photograph of Ha Jeom-yeon, another survivor who passed away on Oct. 26. (Yonhap News)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) submitted an opinion recommending the dismissal of a constitutional appeal filed by comfort women survivors over the agreement reached by the South Korean and Japanese governments on the Japanese military comfort women issue on Dec. 28, 2015, it was belatedly confirmed on Nov. 5.
The ministry’s position was based on its conclusion that the agreement “does not represent the exercise of governmental authority” and that the “basic rights of victims were not violated by the agreement.”
Critics are accusing the ministry of adopting an overly defensive attitude, with the same administration itself taking issue with the agreement’s legitimacy last year and the victims claiming that their “basic right in the form of the right of diplomatic protection” was violated by the agreement.
“As a non-legally binding political agreement, the comfort women agreement is not a treaty and therefore cannot be seen as an exercise of governmental authority,” a MOFA official explained in a Nov. 5 meeting with reporters.
“On that basis, we submitted a response [to the Constitutional Court] last June including a recommendation to dismiss the appeal, as the victims’ basic rights cannot be seen as having been directly violated,” the official added.
The argument is that because the Dec. 2015 agreement was a political “declaration” rather than a legally binding treaty, its legal standing should be viewed in those terms as a separate issue from its legitimacy.
[Comfort women] [Park Geun-hye] [Judiciary]
Japanese diet delegation debates with Korean conservative parties on ruling on forced labor
Posted on : Nov.6,2018 16:53 KST Modified on : Nov.6,2018 16:53 KST
“Next-generation leaders” visits members of LKP and Bareunmirae
National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang meets with a delegation of “next-generation leaders” from the Diet of Japan On Nov. 5 (Yonhap News)
A delegation of “next-generation leaders” from the Diet of Japan visited the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and Bareunmirae Party to condemn the South Korean Supreme Court’s recent ruling ordering compensation for conscripted labor during the Japanese occupation. The visits resulted in some heated exchanges as the remarks drew objections from LKP emergency committee chief Kim Byeong-joon and Bareunmirae Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu.
Led by lawmaker Yasuhisa Shiozaki from the Japanese House of Representatives, the delegation visited the National Assembly that day for the ostensible purpose of “interchange between South Korean and Japanese next-generation leaders.” In a meeting with Kim Byeong-joon, Shiozaki declared, “The matter of claim rights was fully and finally resolved with the 1965 Claims Settlement Agreement between South Korea and Japan.”
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced Labour] [Conservatives]
Mitsubishi to establish fund to compensate Chinese victims of forced labor within the year
Posted on : Nov.6,2018 16:56 KST Modified on : Nov.6,2018 16:56 KST
Only 11 of 3,765 “eligible” individuals have received settlement
The son of a Chinese victim of forced labor by the Japanese company Mitsubishi Materials (formerly Mitsubishi Mining) weeps during an interview in Beijing while holding a photograph of his father after the company agreed to pay reparations of 100,000 yen (US$886) to each of the victims. (AP)
Japan’s Mitsubishi Materials (formerly Mitsubishi Mining) is planning to set up a fund for Chinese victims of forced labor within the year as part of a settlement reached with those victims, the Japanese press is reporting.
Kyodo News reported on Nov. 5 that Mitsubishi Materials has agreed to create the fund before the end of this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced Labour] [Sidelined]
Japanese foreign minister says S. Korean government should compensate forced labor victims
Posted on : Nov.5,2018 16:43 KST Modified on : Nov.5,2018 16:43 KST
Taro Kono claims 1965 treaty puts all responsibility for reparations on South Korea
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono responded to a recent South Korean Supreme Court ruling ordering a Japanese business to compensation victims of forced labor conscription by saying the South Korean government should compensate the victims itself.
“The South Korean government assumed responsibility [with the 1965 Claims Settlement and Economic Cooperation Agreement between South Korea and Japan] and agreed to provide compensation and damages [to victims of forced conscription],” Kono was quoted by NHK as saying in a Nov. 3 speech in Kanagawa Prefecture.
“Rather than compensation each person individually, the Japanese government paid a corresponding amount through its economic cooperation fund,” Kono explained about the agreement’s signing.
“South Korea had an annual budget of around US$300 million at the time, and Japan provided it with a lump sum of US$500 million,” he said.
Kono went on to describe this as the “most basic of the promises made between Japan and South Korea to date.”
“The [South Korean Supreme Court] ruling is in complete violation of this decision. Japan has paid all the necessary money to South Korea, and now the South Korean government must assume responsibility for compensation,” he said.
But even within Japan, many criticize the Japanese government’s claim that the issue was “completely and finally resolved” with the 1965 agreement.
[Forced Labour] [Japanese colonialism]  [Park Chung-hee]
[Interview] The forgotten remains of Koreans forced to act as human shields for Japanese soldiers
Posted on : Nov.5,2018 16:34 KST Modified on : Nov.5,2018 16:34 KST
Dr. Jennie Jin explains the difficulty of recovering remains of Koreans conscripted into labor
Dr. Jennie Jin (Jin Ju-hyeon), director of the Korean War Project at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), at the US Department of Defense, explains the process of recovering the remains of Koreans who were forced into serving Japanese troops during the Battle of Tarawa in WWII at the Indo-Pacific Command base in Hawaii on Oct. 23. (photos by Lee Je-hun)
“Do you know about Tarawa?”
When the speaker paused her patient description of the identification of human remains to ask this abrupt question, people in the audience looked around blankly.
Smiling broadly, the speaker continued: “Probably not. I didn’t know about it either until the first time I went there. When Koreans come by, I always bring them here to talk about Tarawa. It’s just such a shame.”
The speaker was Dr. Jennie Jin (Korean name Jin Ju-hyeon), who is in charge of the Korean War Project at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), at the US Department of Defense. The mission of this project is to recover and identify the remains of people who were killed or went missing during the Korean War. Recently, Jin has focused on identifying the remains of the American soldiers in the 55 boxes that the North Koreans handed over to the Americans on July 27.
Jin also took part in the repatriation ceremony for the remains that was held at Kalma Airport in Wonsan, North Korea, where she assessed the content of the boxes to ensure they did not contain animal bones. Just as before, no animal bones were found in the boxes that the North Koreans said contained the remains of American soldiers.
Around 1,200 Korean forced laborers sacrificed in Battle of Tarawa
Dr. Jin explains the process of confirming the identity of Koreans forced into labor under the Japanese imperial army using their remains.
So why did Jin ask the South Koreans in the South Korea-US Security Forum delegation who visited DPAA, at the Indo-Pacific Command base in Hawaii on Oct. 23, whether they knew about Tarawa?
The small island of Tarawa in the South Pacific, which is gradually being submerged by global warming, is the capital of the Republic of Kiribati (population of 100,000). Tarawa is composed of several atolls, the largest being Betio, which is 3km long and 800m wide.
Between Nov. 20 and 23 of 1943, Betio was the site of a desperate battle between American troops trying to land on the atoll and Japanese forces determined to stop them. The battle was a 72-hour bloodbath in which 1,696 Americans, including 900 marines, and 4,690 Japanese lost their lives. The name that war historians have given this first amphibious landing that affected the course of the War in the Pacific is the Battle of Tarawa.
Another part of Jin’s job is to recover and identify the remains of American troops buried on Tarawa and return them to their families. “The American government has been working hard and getting results. Japanese NGOs are also traveling around islands in the Pacific Islands and recovering remains.”
But it turns out that the US and Japan aren’t the only countries concerned. The American soldiers who overcame the Japanese resistance and landed on the island took 145 prisoners, 128 of whom were Koreans conscripted into labor. Records show that 1,400 Korean forced laborers had been brought to the island to fortify it. That means that more than 1,200 other workers were killed on the island – not in the suicidal charge of Japanese soldiers screaming “Bonzai!” but as human shields whimpering for their mothers.
[Pacific War] [Forced labour]
Supreme Court decision sparks debate over legal power of international human rights agreements
Posted on : Nov.4,2018 13:26 KST Modified on : Nov.4,2018 13:26 KST
Justices’ supplementary opinion states Civil Rights Covenant possesses same force as domestic law
The appeals trial of the case of conscientious objector to military service Oh Seung-heon at the Supreme Court on Nov. 1, in which Oh was acquitted of criminal charges related to his refusal to perform military service on religious grounds. (Kim Jung-hyo, staff photographer)
The South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling that acquitted a conscientious objector to the country’s mandatory military service included the intriguing supplementary opinion that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which South Korea is a signatory, can serve directly as a judicial norm. There has been a debate in the legal community about whether international human rights agreements that South Korea is a member of possess the same legal force as domestic law.
A supplementary opinion to the majority opinion by Park Jung-hwa, Kim Seon-soo and Noh Jeong-hee states that “the Civil Rights Covenant ratified by South Korea has the same force as domestic law according to Article 6, Clause 1, of the Constitution and can serve directly as a norm for adjudication.”
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Compensation for forced labor victims faces tough road
Posted : 2018-11-04 17:24
Updated : 2018-11-04 18:16
Tweet Follow @koreatimescokr
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono speaks to media after a meeting with South Korean ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon (not pictured) at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, last week. Retuers-Yonhap
By Kim Bo-eun
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono claimed the South Korean government is responsible to compensate the victims of forced labor during the 1910-45 Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula, as the two countries signed a bilateral treaty in 1965 to settle colonial era issues.
"Japan cannot accept (the South Korean Supreme Court's) ruling because it goes against the treaty," Kono said Saturday.
The response came after the Supreme Court ordered a Japanese steelmaker last week to compensate South Korean victims during the period. The final ruling calls for Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal to pay each of the four plaintiffs 100 million won ($89,445). It retained the adjudication of the ruling in 2012, that the 1965 bilateral treaty does not terminate individuals' rights to claim damages.
Referring to the treaty, Kono said, "Japan provided the Korean government with funds, and the South Korean government pledged to take charge of compensating its people." Under the treaty, Tokyo provided Seoul $500 million in compensation.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Japanese civic group protests Mitsubishi’s treatment of forced Korean laborers in Tokyo
Posted on : Nov.3,2018 15:13 KST Modified on : Nov.3,2018 15:13 KST
Says setting historical affairs in order is the right thing to do for “the true Japan”
A Nagoya-based civic group supporting the lawsuit of the Korean Women’s Volunteer Labor Corps against Mitsubishi demands that the company apologize and pay reparations to the victims of forced labor in front of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries headquarters in Tokyo on Nov. 2. (All photos by Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent)
“How would you feel if you worked without receiving any wages? You’d be angry, right? Well, 300 Korean women who were forcibly mobilized to work for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries weren’t paid anything, but the Japanese government says that this problem was resolved by its agreement with South Korea about outstanding claims. Clearly, the victims regard this as unacceptable.”
At 8:30 am on Nov. 2, Shinagawa Station in Tokyo’s Minato District was bustling with people on their way to work. Ryohei Hirayama, a member of a Nagoya civic group supporting the lawsuit of the Korean Women’s Volunteer Labor Corps against Mitsubishi, was holding a microphone and providing a detailed explanation of why Mitsubishi Heavy Industries needs to apologize and provide compensation. His speech was tailored to the mindset of ordinary Japanese.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
[Editorial] Abe confirms Japan’s regressive attempts to gloss over historical facts
Posted on : Nov.3,2018 15:11 KST Modified on : Nov.3,2018 15:11 KST
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Speaking before the Japanese House of Representatives on Nov. 1, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the South Korean Supreme Court’s recent ruling on forced labor conscription by reiterating his position that the matter was “completely and finally resolved” with the 1965 Claims Settlement Agreement between South Korea and Japan.
The Japanese government also reportedly held a briefing for the company in question and other companies that are being sued by Koreans who were conscripted into forced labor during Japan’s colonial occupation, which was ordered not to comply in terms of compensation or reconciliation “because the matter has been resolved through the Claims Settlement Agreement.” It’s dismaying to see nothing has changed with Tokyo’s attempts to use an agreement signed over half a century ago as a shield against the many historical issues between South Korea and Japan.
Abe went even farther by insisting that the term “workers from the Korean Peninsula” would be used going forward in place of “conscripted laborers,” which is the term Japan has been using. This can only be seen as a transparent ploy to counter the image of illegal forced labor conjured up by the word “conscripted.”
[Abe Shinzo] [Japanese colonialism] [Denial]
Japanese government tells companies to not compensate Korean victims of forced labor
Posted on : Nov.2,2018 17:32 KST Modified on : Nov.2,2018 17:32 KST
Tokyo to adopt phrase “former workers from the Korean Peninsula” instead of forced laborers
South Korean plaintiffs Yang Geum-deok (left) and Kim Jae-rim, who have filed a suit against the Japanese firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries demanding reparations for their forced conscription into labor during the colonial occupation, hold a press conference in front of the Gwangju High Court on Oct. 31. Their case is currently pending in the South Korean Supreme Court. (Yonhap News)
The Japanese government is holding briefings in which it is instructing Japanese companies that are being sued by Koreans who were conscripted into forced labor during Japan’s colonial occupation not to compensate the plaintiffs or even settle with them.
During the daily press briefing on the afternoon of Nov. 1, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “As usual, we are in close contact with the Japanese companies that are being sued, including the company that was ruled against [by the South Korean Supreme Court on Sept. 30]. Since the ruling, we have been briefing companies about the position of the Japanese government and about the situation in South Korea in connection with the lawsuits.”
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Aging plaintiffs in case against Japan’s forced labor practices running out of time
Posted on : Nov.1,2018 16:14 KST Modified on : Nov.1,2018 16:14 KST
Korean Women’s Volunteer Labor Corps suit against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries still pending
Upon hearing the ruling of the appeals court for her trial against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on Oct. 31, Kim Jae-rim, 88, a victim of forced migration and labor under the Japanese occupation, shares her thoughts and feelings while holding a sign that reads, “I’ve waited 73 years.” (provided by the Citizens in Support of the Korean Women’s Volunteer Labor Corps)
“I don’t have a lot of days left to live. I hope my wish will be granted while I’m alive,” said Kim Jae-rim.
On the afternoon of Oct. 31, the 88-year-old woman was in room No. 204 at the Gwangju High Court. She is the plaintiff in an appeals case being tried by Hon. Choi In-gyu, head of the court’s second civil division.
Kim, who was taken to Japan to work in the Korean Women’s Volunteer Labor Corps, has sued Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for compensation. In Feb. 2014, Kim was one of four members of the labor corps and surviving family members who brought a lawsuit against the company for secondary damages. There is particular interest in this trial since it’s the first appeals case to be tried since South Korea’s Supreme Court recognized that victims of compulsory mobilization during Japan’s colonial rule over Korea have the right to claim damages and compensation against Japanese companies.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Japan’s refusal to pay reparations contradictory to its attitude toward Chinese forced laborers
Posted on : Nov.1,2018 16:11 KST Modified on : Nov.1,2018 16:11 KST
Japanese companies have compensated Chinese victims regardless of judicial rulings
The son of a victim of forced labor by the Japanese company Mitsubishi Materials (formerly Mitsubishi Mining) weeps during an interview in Beijing while holding a photograph of his father after the company agreed to pay reparations of 100,000 yen (US$886) to each of the victims. (Yonhap News)
While the Japanese government and Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Co. are protesting a ruling by South Korea’s Supreme Court that Koreans who were conscripted into forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule must be compensated, this reaction strikes some as a double standard, considering that Japanese companies have basically compensated some Chinese victims regardless of judicial rulings.
Though there are some calls for Japanese companies to apologize and provide compensation on a voluntary basis, the Japanese government’s hardline stance is likely to be an obstacle.
When Chinese victims of forced labor filed a lawsuit in China in 2014, Mitsubishi Materials (formerly Mitsubishi Mining) announced in 2016, two years later, that it would be settling with as many as 3,765 individuals by paying a sum of 100,000 yen (US$886) a person. Thus far, however, a settlement in the courts has only been reached with eleven individuals, and settlement negotiations are still underway with the rest of the former workers.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour] [Sidelined]
Korean Court Orders Japanese Firm to Compensate Forced Labor Victims
By Shin Su-ji, Lee Ha-won
October 31, 2018 10:46
The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered Nippon Steel to compensate four Korean laborers who were forced to work in Japanese factories during World War II.
The court ordered the Japanese firm to pay W100 million each to the four Korean claimants including Lee Chun-sik (94), the sole surviving victim who was at the court when the ruling was announced (US$1=W1,140).
The court ruled that individual Korean victims were eligible for compensation despite the Japanese government's claims that all obligations were settled by a 1965 lump sum payment that normalized ties between the two countries. The court's landmark ruling could put a chill on already soured ties between the two neighboring countries.
Lee Chun-sik (right), a forced labor victim during World War II, sheds tears while talking to reporters at the Supreme Court in Seoul on Tuesday.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that an agreement between the two governments cannot void individual compensation claims. In 2013, the Seoul High Court ordered Japan to pay compensation to the Korean individuals, drawing vehement protest from the Japanese government.
As expected, Tokyo, who maintains that the 1965 bilateral treaty settled the issue of individuals' rights to seek compensation, immediately protested against the court's decision.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the ruling was "an unbelievable judgement from the perspective of international law." Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono also summoned the Korean ambassador to Japan following the ruling to lodge a protest.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (center) protests to Korean ambassador to Japan Lee Su-hoon in Japan's Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday. /Reuters-Yonhap
Japanese media appeared to be concerned about the ramifications of the latest ruling. The Tokyo Shimbun daily reported that nearly 1,000 Koreans have filed relevant lawsuits. Jiji Press reported that more lawsuits could ensue since there are more than 220,000 Korean victims of wartime forced labor.
Some 148,961 Koreans are believed to be eligible to seek compensation from Japan and about 299 Japanese companies could be held accountable, according to a survey by the Prime Minister's Office. Only around 5,000 victims are still alive, but surviving family members are also eligible to seek compensation.
[Forced Labour] [Japanese colonialism]
[Editorial] Supreme Court decision on forced labor tragically late due to judicial corruption
Posted on : Oct.31,2018 16:47 KST Modified on : Oct.31,2018 16:47 KST
Lee Choon-sik, 94, is the last remaining survivor of a group of plaintiffs that filed suit against the Japanese company responsible for their forced mobilization and labor during the colonial occupation. Lee is seen shedding tears at the South Korean Supreme Court in Seoul on Oct. 30 after the court’s ruling that Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation should pay reparations to the victims. (Kim Myoung-jin, staff photographer)
The South Korean Supreme Court has produced a final ruling demanding that a Japanese company compensate victims of forced labor during the Japanese occupation. In an Oct. 30 full bench ruling presided over by Chief Justice Kim Myeong-soo, the court affirmed the original ruling in the second appeal on a case filed by Lee Choon-sik and other victims of forced labor demanding damages from Nippon Steel and Spumitomo Metal Corporation (formerly Japan Iron and Steel Co.), dismissing the Japanese company’s renewed appeal and ordering the payment of 100 million won (US$87,800) each to the plaintiffs.
The decision comes 13 years and 8 months after the victims first filed suit, and over five years after the case arrived from the second appeal stage. The other plaintiffs passed away in the meantime, leaving 94-year-old Lee as the only survivor. This decision is all too late in coming. It is also embarrassing to consider that the delay happened because of judicial “transactions,” where compensation for the victims’ forced labor was traded for overseas positions for judges. It wouldn’t be enough for the people involved in this judicial scandal to prostrate themselves before the souls of the departed plaintiffs.
[Forced labour] [Japanese colonialism] [Corruption]
Supreme Court’s ruling orders Japanese firm to pay damages to victims of forced labor
Posted on : Oct.31,2018 16:48 KST Modified on : Oct.31,2018 16:48 KST
Decision confirms victims’ individual rights to claim damages despite 1965 treaty
Chief Justice Kim Myeong-soo full bench of the Supreme Court prepare to announce their ruling on reparations to the victims of forced labor by Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Co. on Oct. 30. (Kim Myoung-jin, staff photographer)
“In conclusion, it is the majority opinion of the Supreme Court that the compensation rights sought by the plaintiffs in this case should properly be seen as not included as subject to the terms of the Korea-Japan Claims Settlement, and that the conclusion of the original court following the remand acknowledging the plaintiffs’ claim is appropriate. The order and appeal are both hereby dismissed.”
It took less than ten minutes to conclude a lawsuit asking that damages be paid to people conscripted into labor during Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea in a legal battle that dragged on for 13 years and eight months, or as long as 18 years in some accounts.
On Oct. 30, the full bench of the Supreme Court (under Chief Justice Kim Myeong-soo) made its ruling in the retrial of a lawsuit in which former labor conscripts Yeo Un-taek, Shin Cheon-su, Lee Chun-shik and Kim Gyu-su requested damages from Japanese company Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Co. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Seoul High Court, which ruled that Yeo and the other plaintiffs should each be paid 100 million won (US$87,800) in damages.
The court’s rationale was that victims of forced labor, a crime against humanity committed during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, retain their individual rights to claim damages and compensation, despite the basic treaty that South Korea and Japan signed in 1965 to settle outstanding claims between the two countries.
[Forced labour] [Japanese colonialism]
 [Park Chung-hee]
Return to top of page
Abe voices “dismay” over controversy surrounding Rising Sun Flag at intl. naval review
Posted on : Oct.30,2018 17:17 KST Modified on : Oct.30,2018 17:17 KST
Indicates demand for “appropriate response” from South Korean government
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced his “dismay” over the recent controversy regarding the planned raising of the Rising Sun Flag at the International Fleet Review in Jeju and a visit to the Dokdo islets by members of the South Korean National Assembly. The message was Abe’s first statement of a position on the matters.
“Although we have had several opportunities to confirm that we are seeking to cooperate toward establishing a future-oriented Japan-South Korean relationship based on this year marking the 20th anniversary of the Japan-South Korea Joint Declaration [A New Japan-Korean Partnership towards the Twenty-First Century], it is dismaying that we have had the issue with the raising of our naval ensign at the Fleet Review, the Takeshima (Dokdo) visit by South Korean National Assembly members, and various other things that have run counter to this [future-oriented South Korea-Japan relationship],” Abe said at an Oct. 29 regular session of the Japanese House of Representatives.
[Abe Shinzo] [Jeju] [Japanese colonialism]
Japanese high court upholds denial of tuition waivers for students of pro-Pyongyang school
Oct 31, 2018
A high court upheld a lower court’s ruling Tuesday in favor of the government’s decision to exclude a pro-Pyongyang school in Tokyo from a tuition waiver program that covers most of the nation’s high schools.
The Tokyo High Court said the school is suspected of having ties with the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean residents in Japan, known as Chongryon, as suggested in news reports.
The education minister’s decision to exclude the school from the program did not overstep the scope of his discretion, the court said.
Under the tuition waiver plan, launched in 2010, public school students are exempted from paying tuition fees, while private school students receive financial assistance from the government.
The status of pro-Pyongyang schools was undetermined until February 2013, when the government decided to exclude them from the program, citing the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea among other issues.
[Zainichi] [Discrimination] [Japanese colonialism]
South Korean court to rule on war survivors' claim against Japanese firm
South Korea’s top court is due to rule on Tuesday on a damages lawsuit against a Japanese company filed by South Koreans forced into labor during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation, a decision that could unsettle ties between the uneasy neighbors.
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.'s Kimitsu steel plant is pictured at its exhibition hall in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, May 31, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
Japan and South Korea share a bitter history that includes Japan’s 35-year occupation of the peninsula and the use of comfort women, Japan’s euphemism for women - many of them Korean - forced to work in its wartime brothels.
Four former laborers initiated a suit in 2005 against Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., seeking compensation and unpaid wages.
Previous cases they had brought in Japan were dismissed on the grounds that their right to reparation was terminated by a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties.
[Forced labour] [1965 Japan SK] [Park Chung-hee]
Japan joins to shape China’s Belt and Road
28 October 2018
Author: Shiro Armstrong, ANU
On the first state visit to China by a Japanese leader in 11 years, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping announced 50 joint infrastructure projects. This embrace of joint infrastructure investment cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative in all but name is on a scale even larger than was anticipated before Abe’s arrival in Beijing. There was also a raft of other announcements that will help normalise the political relationship between the two Asian giants that share one of the largest economic relationships in the world. But the most consequential of those could be the joint investment in infrastructure projects.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun speaks at an international forum on Belt and Road Legal Cooperation in Beijing, China, 2 July 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee).
China’s welcoming of Japan to undertake joint projects is a sign of a change in approach to rolling out its Belt and Road Initiative. Mr Xi’s signature project has found resistance both abroad and at home, and many of the risks have materialised, resulting in failed projects bringing economic and political costs.
For Japan it’s a pragmatic way to engage China. As Chinese policymakers search for ways to better deploy the country’s vast sums of capital abroad, Japan has experience of doing just that dating back to the 1970s — including of geopolitical pushback. Understanding that the Belt and Road is here to stay, Japanese engagement can shape the massive investments and get more business for its companies. It’s also a part of a broader hedge against an increasingly uncertain Japan–US relationship.
[Japan China] [Abe_Xi1810] [Belt and Road] [US Japan] [Decline]
Korea-Japan Relations Chill Further
By Ahn Jun-yong
October 26, 2018 12:55
Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun met Thursday with his Japanese counterpart Takeo Akiba in Tokyo in a chilly meeting on Thursday and discussed a controversial 2015 agreement compensating Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army.
Akiba expressed regret at Seoul's decision to shut down a foundation set up with 1 billion yen in Japanese money to compensate the women and insisted Seoul must faithfully abide by the agreement.
The meeting came after President Moon Jae-in last month told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of his decision to close the foundation. Neither some of the victims nor the Korean public at large are happy about the agreement, which was concluded in murky circumstances by the Park Geun-hye administration and lets Tokyo off without admitting responsibility.
The two officials also discussed the Korean Supreme Court's expected ruling on compensating Koreans laborers who were forced to work in Japanese factories during World War II. The court is to rule soon on a compensation suit filed by four victims against Nippon Steel.
President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a meeting in New York on Sept. 25. /Yonhap
For a long time the two neighbors worked on the assumption that all claims against the former occupying power were settled by a 1965 lump sum payment that normalized ties between the two countries.
But the Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that an agreement between the two governments cannot void individual compensation claims. In 2013, the Seoul High Court ordered Japan to pay compensation to the Korean individuals, drawing vehement protest from the Japanese government.
On Thursday, Akiba again insisted that the matter has already been settled. If the Supreme Court finds in favor of the claimants, Japan is expected to take the matter to the International Court of Justice.
Former Korean Ambassador to Japan Shin Kak-soo said, "Japanese companies will probably refuse to pay, while the Japanese government will portray Korea as having no regard for the law."
Japan has had enormous trouble coming to terms with its colonial and war crimes, and denying them is a solid vote-winner for rightwing parties there.
[Japan SK] [Comfort women] [Japanese colonialism]
Freed Japan hostage arrives home to joy, but also anger
Posted : 2018-10-26 17:23
Updated : 2018-10-26 17:23
A Japanese journalist freed from Syria this week arrived home to overjoyed relatives and supporters, but also to vitriol from some who accuse him and other hostages of reckless behaviour.
Jumpei Yasuda was kidnapped in Syria in 2015, and spent more than three years in conditions he described as "hell."
He arrived back in Japan on Thursday night, greeted by his delighted wife and parents, who had brought him homemade Japanese food to celebrate.
But even before Yasuda set foot on Japanese soil, he was the target of angry criticism -- mostly online -- ranging from accusations of recklessness to claims that he was not even Japanese.
"He is disturbing society," wrote one Twitter user. "He's an anti-citizen," charged another.
Perhaps anticipating the criticism, Yasuda's only statement upon arrival, read to reporters by his wife Myu, was dominated by an apology.
"I apologise for causing such trouble and worry, but thanks to all of you, I was able to come home safely," he said.
The anger directed at Yasuda -- author of books on the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, whose reporting has appeared on Japanese television -- is a far cry from the reception that journalism held hostage have received in other countries upon their release.
When four French journalists held by the Islamic State group in Syria were released, then-French president Francois Hollande met the men as they arrived home.
Jobs at Tokyo Embassy Find No Takers
By Ahn Jun-yong
October 23, 2018 12:51
The Foreign Ministry has failed to fill several vacancies at the embassy in Tokyo because nobody applied, leading to a fresh round of recruitment.
The ministry is looking for three section chiefs to start work at the embassy early next year, but nobody applied and the ministry had to announce the vacancy again.
The ministry on Monday said some officials have now applied.
Some pundits are worried about a drain of Japan experts at the ministry as relations between the neighbors remain chilled. The Tokyo embassy was once a favorite posting for Korean diplomats, but its popularity has dropped significantly since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 as well as deteriorating bilateral relations.
A former diplomat said, "Many diplomats believe the job will be hard work but they won't get any praise or rewards because it involves so many intractable issues" such as Japan's wartime mobilization of Korean sex slaves and its repeated claims to Korea's Dokdo islets.
But the problem is not limited to Japan, and the ministry blames a general staff shortage.
The ministry said there were also not enough applicants for vacancies at the embassy in China and missions in the EU during the first half of this year and at the OECD recently.
"This is due to the lack of possible replacements as headquarters is short of staff because some are on paternity or maternity leave and for other reasons," a ministry official said.
Lawmakers moving to ban 'Rising Sun' flag on Korean soil
Posted : 2018-10-02 17:34
Updated : 2018-10-02 18:02
By Kim Bo-eun
A lawmaker of the ruling party has proposed revisions to existing regulations to ban vessels flying Japan's Rising Sun Flag from navigating South Korea's territorial waters.
The move comes amid a growing controversy over a warship from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces taking part in the International Fleet Review 2018 of the Republic of Korea Navy next week in Jeju flying the Rising Sun Flag.
Petitions have been posted on the Cheong Wa Dae website opposing the entry of Japanese vessels flying the flag from entering Korean wasters, citing that it symbolizes Japan's imperialist past and is a reminder for Koreans of colonial rule.
Rep. Lee Seok-hyun of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea claimed Tuesday the country needs to ban the use of items that symbolize Japan's imperial past. Revisions were proposed to the criminal law and regulations on territorial seas and contiguous zones, as well as aviation safety.
Return to top of page
“Education and Patriotism” (Kyoiku to aikoku). A Documentary
Translated by Collin Rusneac with an Introduction by Sven Saaler
September 15, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 18 | Number 1
Mainichi Broadcasting System, “Education and Patriotism”
Collin Rusneac provides a full translation of the TV documentary “Education and Patriotism” (Kyoiku to aikoku) produced by Mainichi Broadcasting System for its series “MBS Eizo ‘17” and first aired in July 2017. It provides a critical look at recent debates surrounding the introduction of moral education in Japanese elementary and middle schools as a new subject and in particular focuses on the compilation, examination, approval and selection of textbooks for classes in moral education, while extending the analysis to the ongoing history textbook controversies.1
[Education] [Indoctrination] [Japanese imperialism]
Constitutional revision in Japan by 2020? Don’t count on it
13 September 2018
Author: Michael Cucek, Temple University
Revision or amendment of the 1947 US-drafted Constitution of Japan has been the aim of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s existence since the day it was founded. Yet in 60 years of nearly unbroken rule, the party has failed to table a single draft proposal for a constitutional amendment.
A protester holding a placard featuring Japan's war-renouncing Article 9 marches during an annual May Day march organized by the Group of the National Confederation of Trade Unions, commonly known in Japanese as Zenroren, in Tokyo, 1 May 2015. Thousands of union workers and activists gathered and marched central Tokyo on International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day or May Day, to demand higher pay and better working conditions, a halt to nuclear power plants, and protested against war and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration (Photo: Reuters/Issei Kato).
Scepticism is justified regarding the vow Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made to Nippon Kaigi — a group that advocates constitutional revision — that before the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, he would lead the National Diet and the people to vote for the first amendment of the post-war constitution.
Abe has advantages in this endeavour that his previous Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidents did not. His LDP–Komeito ruling coalition holds over two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives and has held on to this supermajority the coalition through two successive elections. Together with allied micro-parties, independents and revision-sympathetic conservatives of the Ishin no Kai party, the ruling coalition also secured a two-thirds supermajority in the House of Councillors (the upper house) in 2016.
These two supermajorities guarantee the first two requirements for the passage of a constitutional amendment: a more than two-thirds vote of approval in both houses of the Diet.
None of Abe’s projected opponents in the scheduled September 2018 LDP presidential election are noted opponents of revision. Indeed, former defence minister and LDP secretary-general Shigeru Ishiba, Abe’s most viable opponent in an intra-party power struggle, desires much more radical revisions than Abe and his allies have been considering.
Crucially for a party driven by factionalism, the LDP’s internal constitutional revision apparatus is in the grasp of Abe loyalists. An overlooked achievement was Abe’s wresting the chairmanship of the LDP Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision of the Constitution away from Hajime Funada. Funada had used control of the revision committee as means of hobbling the initiatives of his fellow party members. Buoyed by the great victory in the October 2017 election, Abe shoved Funada aside, replacing him with a more senior and supportive leader: Hiroyuki Hosoda, the head of Abe’s own faction within the LDP.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Abe Shinzo] [Constitution]
Abe Wants to Meet Kim Jong-un
By Ahn Jun-yong
September 11, 2018 09:57
National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon (left) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday. /Yonhap
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said now is the time for him to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He was speaking to South Korean National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon, who was in Tokyo to brief Abe on his latest trip to Pyongyang.
Abe's national security adviser Shotaro Yachi, who keeps in close contact with White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, was also on hand at their meeting.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a press release, "In a 40-minute meeting with Suh, Abe showed interest in ways to implement Pyongyang's promises for denuclearization, which Kim Jong-un has reaffirmed, and prospects for the upcoming Moon-Kim summit."
"Abe expressed willingness to meet Kim Jong-un to resolve issues at a time when the leaders of the two Koreas and of the U.S. and the North are communicating with each other," he added.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japan NK]
Japanese Tweeters Apologize to Moon for Abe's Snub
By Kim Myong-song
September 10, 2018 10:30
A signboard showing the cancellation of flights to Osaka and Sapporo is placed at Incheon International Airport on Friday. /Yonhap
Hundreds of comments in Japanese on President Moon Jae-in's Twitter account on Sunday apologized for the rude behavior of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Earlier, Moon tweeted a message of commiseration for the victims of the earthquake in Hokkaido last Thursday, but Abe did not respond.
"I offer my consolation to the Japanese public as well as Prime Minister Abe, who suffered heavily from the natural disaster. I offer my condolences to the residents of Osaka and Sapporo who perished due to the typhoon and earthquake," Moon tweeted.
Abe ignored to Moon's message but tweeted his thanks to Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for their own messages of commiseration.
It is unclear whether Abe thanked Moon through other channels. A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "We have open channels of communication with Japan for matters other than the earthquake."
[SK Japan] [Abe Shinzo]
World Scholars, Artists, Activists Call for Demilitarization of Okinawa
September 9, 2018 Save
More than one hundred scholars, peace activists and artists from around the world have issued a statement condemning the Japanese and U.S. governments’ plans to build a new base for the US Marine Corps in Northern Okinawa.
To: Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo
To: President of the United States, Donald Trump
To: Acting Governor of Okinawa, Jahana Kiichiro
To: Acting Governor of Okinawa, Tomikawa Moritake
To: The people of the world
September 7, 2018
In January 2014, more than one hundred scholars, peace activists and artists from around the world issued a statement condemning the Japanese and U.S. governments’ plans to close MCAS Futenma, which is located in the middle of a congested urban neighbourhood, and build a new base for the US Marine Corps offshore from the coastal village of Henoko in Northern Okinawa. While we applauded shutting the Futenma base, we strongly objected to the idea of relocating it inside Okinawa.
US–Japan cracks are starting to show
5 September 2018
Author: Lully Miura, University of Tokyo
US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June 2018. The ‘historic event’ ended up with a piece of paper, which verified already existing commitments made by North Korea at the third inter-Korean summit in April 2018. Although there were no specific promises made in the US–North Korea joint statement, President Trump made a generous gesture to halt joint military exercises with South Korea. International and US media have expressed concerns about stopping the exercises without a more substantial pledge to denuclearise from North Korea.
An aerial view shows a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel spraying water at a fishing boat from North Korea, in an area called the Yamato Shallows, where in waters Japan says is part of its exclusive economic zone, about 400 kilometers off the western coast of Japan, in this handout photo taken in September 2017 and provided by Japan Coast Guard (Photo: Japan Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters).
The sentiment in Japan following the US–North Korea summit is of disappointment and powerlessness. President Trump mentioned Japan as one of the main cost bearers of denuclearisation, yet no concrete agreement about denuclearisation was made. Once again, Japan would be paying for something it has little influence over. The pacifist sectors of Japan — the opposition and left-leaning media — are critical of the Abe administration for being out of the loop.
Japan finds itself in a difficult position. It doesn’t really have any policy alternative other than to attempt to influence the US government. But what is clear from the United States’ turn towards rapprochement with North Korea is that this influencing capability is quite limited. Japan also has no offensive capabilities, neither nuclear nor conventional, to draw concessions out of North Korea. Japan’s Self-Defense Force will likely not be joining the military operation towards North Korea in any significant fashion. In case of a military scenario, the decision-making will not include Japan nor address its concerns, while many of the associated risks and costs are likely to fall on Japan. In other words, the Japanese government has no lever to pull.
[Japan] [Singapore summit] [Sidelined]
Former comfort woman calls for disbandment of false “Reconciliation and Healing” Foundation
Posted on : Sep.4,2018 17:39 KST Modified on : Sep.4,2018 17:39 KST
Kim Bok-dong engages in one-person demonstration despite her battle against cancer
Former comfort woman Kim Bok-dong engages in a one-person demonstration calling for the disbandment of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul on Sept. 3. (Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
During a sudden rain shower around 9 am on Sept. 3, Kim Bok-dong – a former comfort woman, or sex slave for the Japanese imperial army, and a women’s rights activist – headed toward the building of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located in Seoul’s Jongno District. Sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a white raincoat, the elderly woman held a placard that said, “The Reconciliation and Healing Foundation should be disbanded immediately.”
In a voice that came so strong and clear it was hard to believe she’s fighting a battle with cancer, she said, “We’ll handle the fight with Japan, so the government should dismantle the reconciliation foundation or whatever it’s called.”
Because of the cancer growing in her abdomen, 92-year-old Kim had a laparoscopic operation at Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital in Seoul on Aug. 27, just a week before. “It’s just been five days since the operation, but I got so upset just lying down in my room and felt like I had to say something, so I came out,” Kim said.
[Comfort women] [SK Japan] [Park Geun-hye]
Sex Slavery Victims Demand Shutdown of Japanese-Funded Foundation
September 04, 2018 08:59
A 92-year-old woman held a solo protest on Monday in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul over the way it handled the dispute with Japan over victims of wartime sex slavery.
Kim Bok-dong, a victim of the wartime atrocity, demanded the government get rid of a foundation set up based on a murky 2015 deal between Seoul and Tokyo to help the survivors without committing Japan to admitting guilt. Kim said the foundation, funded by 1 billion yen Tokyo paid, misses the point.
Kim Bok-dong holds a placard in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul on Monday. /Yonhap
She said the victims have not been fighting just for compensation but for a sincere apology from Tokyo for its past actions.
Similar protests are planned through the end of September.
Memorial center for forced Korean laborers erected in Sakhalin
Posted on : Sep.3,2018 16:52 KST Modified on : Sep.3,2018 16:52 KST
On Aug. 30, the Hankyoreh Unification and Culture Foundation and the Busan Korean Sharing Movement celebrated the opening of a memorial center for deceased Korean victims of forced migration and labor under during the Japanese occupation. The victims underwent forced mobilization during their youth and died without any relatives to take of their ashes. The memorial center is located in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin, Russia, where many Koreans were forced to work under the Japanese imperial army. The memorial was completed three years after construction first began, and was built to honor around 7,000 Koreans who never got to go home after their forced migration.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Foreign engagement is the major casualty of Japan’s military restructure
29 August 2018
Authors: Kate Stevenson, Australia–Japan Research Centre and Yuji Uesugi, Waseda University
On 27 March 2018, the Japanese Defense Ministry inaugurated a new Ground Component Command (GCC) in Asaka, north of Tokyo. This has been described as one of the biggest institutional shake ups in the history of Japan’s Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF).
Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers take part in an annual training session near Mount Fuji at Higashifuji training field in Gotemba, west of Tokyo, Japan, 23 August 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon).
The GCC establishes centralised command for the GSDF’s five regional armies, which have until now functioned as semi-independent entities that each require separate orders for mobilisation. The new framework aligns GSDF structures with Japan’s air and maritime forces, and in theory provides a more effective means of defending Japan’s southern islands, responding to regional contingencies, coordinating between Japanese forces and engaging with the United States.
The original, decentralised command structure of the GSDF was a legacy of World War II, designed to prevent the resurgence of a politically powerful military. But contemporary concerns centre on achieving a more streamlined command that promotes cohesion and efficiency across the regional armies. The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 was one of the greatest factors in setting this change in motion. The disaster revealed a lack of jointness that hindered effective communications, operations and leadership.
While the GCC restructure was intended to have a primarily domestic scope, it will almost certainly have consequences for Japan’s international engagement and regional security cooperation. The dissolution of the GSDF’s Central Readiness Force (CRF), which occurred along with the GCC’s creation, will have a negative impact on Japan’s international military affairs.
Return to top of page
Testimony of Korean A-Bomb survivors ignored by Japanese government
Posted on : Aug.24,2018 15:56 KST Modified on : Aug.24,2018 15:56 KST
Evidence was destroyed by Nagasaki City regarding unpaid wages for laborers
An A-Bomb survivor‘s health book
In 2008, the Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization under the Japanese Imperialist Occupation, a body formed under the Office of the Prime Minister, published a book titled The August Engraved in my Body - Experiences of Korean Forced Laborers who Survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombs. This was a valuable collection of testimonies from Koreans who had been forcibly taken to Japan and suffered from the atomic bombing. The committee was wrapped up in 2014, and the book is gradually fading from memory, but the deep scars on the bodies and hearts of the victims have not healed.
Lee Gwang-mo, 95, and Kim Seong-su, 92, who were sent to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Nagasaki Shipyard during the Japanese occupation, visited Nagasaki to testify in a lawsuit demanding that the Japanese government issue them with “A-bomb survivor's health books” that are provided to atomic bomb survivors. Under the Japanese Atomic Bomb Survivors Relief Law, the Japanese government recognizes those who were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the bombings as “atomic bomb survivors,” issues them with health books and provides free medical care.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour] [Hiroshima]
President Moon calls on Japan to cooperate on peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia
Posted on : Aug.16,2018 17:54 KST Modified on : Aug.16,2018 17:54 KST
Contents of this year’s Liberation Day suggests Moon’s “two-pronged approach”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook wave South Korean flags at a celebratory event for the nation’s 73rd National Liberation Day at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul on Aug. 15. (Blue House photo pool)
On Aug. 15, the holiday marking Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial occupation, South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a message to the Japanese government calling for “cooperation” on a future of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia. This was substantially different from Moon’s request for Japan to reflect on its past in his addresses for Liberation Day last year and on the March 1st Movement holiday this year.
“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and I have agreed to develop our bilateral relations in a future-oriented direction and to work together closely for the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Such cooperation will eventually lead to the normalization of Japan-North Korea relations,” Moon said during his congratulatory address on Liberation Day.
It’s unusual for a Liberation Day speech not to include a message for the Japanese government about the two countries’ fraught past. During his Liberation Day speech last year, Moon said, “The fact that we value the future of South Korea-Japan relations doesn’t mean we can pass over historical issues. Trust between the two countries will deepen when historical issues have been properly addressed.”
And during his March 1st Movement speech this year, he criticized Japan’s territorial claims to Dokdo and took a firm position on the issue of the “comfort women” – by saying that “the Japanese government, as the aggressor, can’t say that this is over.”
Moon’s “minimization” of the message to Japan on Wednesday appears to indicate his intention not to exclude Japan, as one of Korea’s important neighbors, from the process of achieving denuclearization and establishing a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
[SK Japan] [Moon Jae-in] [Subservience]
President Moon says comfort women issue won’t be solved through diplomacy
Posted on : Aug.15,2018 16:17 KST Modified on : Aug.15,2018 16:17 KST
Remarks imply need for fundamental soul-searching regarding human rights
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and First Lady Kim Jung-sook attend a ceremony for the Memorial Day for Japanese Forces‘ Comfort Victims at the National Mang-Hyang Cemetery, a cemetery for Koreans who died overseas, in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap News)
Referring to the issue of the comfort women for the Japanese imperial army on Aug. 14, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, “I don’t think this is an issue that can be resolved through diplomacy [between South Korea and Japan].”
“This issue will only be resolved when the whole world – including Japan and we ourselves – learn a lesson from this and firmly resolve to reflect deeply on the issues of human rights and sexual violence against all women and to prevent them from happening again,” Moon said.
Moon made the remarks during a ceremony for the Memorial Day for Japanese Forces' Comfort Victims that was held at the National Mang-Hyang Cemetery, a cemetery for Koreans who died overseas, in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.
“I don’t want this issue to lead to a diplomatic conflict between South Korea and Japan. The comfort women issue is not only a historical issue between South Korea and Japan, but also represents the issue of sexual violence against women in wartime, as well as the universal human issue of women’s rights,” Moon said.
[Comfort women] [SK Japan] [Moon Jae-in] [Subservience
Liberation Day empowers 1,348th 'comfort women' protest outside Japanese embassy
Posted : 2018-08-15 17:19
Updated : 2018-08-15 17:19
Tweet Follow @koreatimescokr
Demonstrators demand a formal apology from the Japanese government to women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II, and recognition of the victims, in front of the Japanese Embassy in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Wednesday, in their 1,348th weekly protest. The sit-in gained more traction than any other Wednesday as the day was Korean Liberation Day, which celebrates Korea's release from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule, following the end of the war. Korea Times photos by Shim Hyun-chul
Interpark, Coupang hit for selling 'Rising Sun Flag'
Posted : 2018-08-15 15:12
Updated : 2018-08-15 17:56
Protective smartphone cases decorated with the Rising Sun Flag of the Japanese imperial military are on sale at Interpark. Courtesy of Professor Seo Kyung-duk
By Park Jae-hyuk
Interpark and Coupang are facing criticism for selling goods with images of the Rising Sun Flag of the Japanese imperial military.
Professor Seo Kyung-duk at Sungshin Women's University in Seoul said Wednesday that Interpark, Coupang and two other domestic online marketplaces were found to sell items decorated with the controversial symbol of Japan's military colonialism during World War II.
The professor typed in "Rising Sun Flag" on 20 e-commerce platforms in Korea and discovered one controversial product on Coupang, three on Interpark and Coocha and four on Daum's e-commerce platform.
The products include protective smartphone cases and notebooks.
Seo, who has been known for campaigning against the flag worldwide, said he conducted the survey to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the National Liberation Day of Korea.
"The e-commerce firms say they just provide marketplaces for individuals and small- and medium-sized sellers to trade with each other, but their business strategies cannot defend them from criticism for not vetting merchandise with images of the Rising Sun Flag," he wrote on Facebook.
[Japanese colonialism] [Flag] [Anti-Japanese]
[Photo] Koreans from South and North and abroad denounce compulsory mobilization during Japanese occupation
Posted on : Aug.10,2018 16:49 KST Modified on : Aug.10,2018 16:49 KST
Various civic organizations, comprising people not only from South and North Korea but overseas Koreans as well, have convened into a single movement calling for Japan to apologize for its forced mobilization of Koreans during the imperial Japanese occupation. Koreans under Japanese rule were often forced from their homes and sent to other areas as laborers. The above photo shows members of the Joint Committee for the Resolution of Compulsory Migration and Japan’s Past Injustices. The North Korean side of the committee also sent a confirmation of their solidarity.
[Joint Korea] [Japanese colonialism]
Return to top of page
Japan launches next-generation destroyer carrying latest version of the Aegis anti-missile system
by Reiji Yoshida
Jul 30, 2018
YOKOHAMA – A launching ceremony for an 8,200-ton, 169.9-meter warship for the Maritime Self-Defense Force was held Monday at a plant in Yokohama’s Isogo Ward as Tokyo keeps steadily bolstering its defense capability against North Korean and Chinese missiles in close cooperation with U.S. military forces.
The Maya-class Aegis destroyer, which is yet to be furnished with major weapons systems, will be handed over to the MSDF in March 2020.
Defense officials have pinned great hopes on it. When deployed, the destroyer — built on the back of a ¥164.8 billion ($1.5 billion) budget for the ship and its weapon systems — will be one of Japan’s most powerful naval ships, boasting the latest version of the state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, which can be closely linked to the U.S. naval combat network.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Aegis] [Interoperability] [USA Japan alliance]
An Open Letter to Emmanuel Macron on the Japanese Rising Sun Flag on Bastille Day
by Comfort Women Justice Coalition
The Hon. Emmanuel Macron
President of France
Palais de l’Élysée
Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Re: The Display of the Japanese Rising Sun Flag on Bastille Day, 2018.
It was to our great astonishment, consternation, and shock that we perceived the Japanese Self Defense Forces display the Rising Sun Flag in front of the gathered crowds during the military parade on Bastille Day, 2018.
Not since the Nazis paraded the Swastika on June 14th, 1940 has there been such a sight on the Champs Elysées.
As you know, the Rising Sun banner is the war flag of the Japanese Imperial Military and the global symbol of Japanese Imperial Terror from 1894-1945. This is the emblem of the military empire that murdered, tortured, enslaved, raped and terrorized their way through Asia and the Pacific, brutally invading and subjugating entire countries and peoples, while perpetrating innumerable crimes of aggression, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The leaders of the Japanese Military High Command, representing command responsibility for the Japanese military, were ultimately found guilty and hanged for these crimes.
Article R 645-1 of the French Criminal Code, rightly prohibits “the public exhibition or wearing of such insignia, symbols/emblems, uniforms that recall those used by…organizations…or persons found guilty of one or multiple crimes against humanity by…a [competent] international tribunal”.
We also remind you of the ineffaceable, irrevocable, inviolable right to redress (“imprescriptibilité“) regarding crimes against humanity, codified in French Law (Law No 64-1326, December 26th, 1964).
We further draw your attention to the fact that these leaders were found guilty of multiple Crimes Against Humanity in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, convened on April 29th, 1946.
We therefore assert that the members of the Japanese contingent parading the Rising Sun were in clear violation of R 645-1.
We request that they be charged and prosecuted according to the law.
Technically, on their own soil, the Japanese SDF are allowed fly the Rising Sun, due to a 1955 accommodation arising from the US SCAP designs of cold war geopolitics. However, it staggers the imagination and shocks the conscience that Republican France—to whom we ascribe higher ethical standards and a demonstrated history of banning symbols and actions like this–would, within the heart of the French Metropole, on the very occasion of its commemoration of opposition to Absolutism and celebration of Universal Human Rights, permit the display and flaunting of a flag that represents the worst excesses of Imperialist Absolutism, unmitigated human rights atrocities, and genocidal and femicidal violations of international law.
We refuse to believe that French standards of governmentality, morality, decency, and common sense allow the public flaunting of the Rising Sun.
We refuse to believe that France allows the symbolic legitimation and normalization of Japanese Imperial Militarism with its long, unimaginable train of irrefragable, but unacknowledged, unatoned-for atrocities.
We refuse to believe that a public holiday also constitutes a moral holiday, where the historical oppressor is dispensed legal exemption to parade violent, traumatic, racist symbology at the cost, shock, and mortification of all its survivors and victims.
We live currently in chaotic, troubled, and morally unsettling times. Symbols have power: the power to incite or to calm, to divide or bring reconciliation, to heal or to harm. The inflammatory public display of the Rising Sun is a symbol of everything that is harmful, divisive, violent, and destructive of human decency, morality, society, and peace.
We urge you to consider our concerns and request prompt and rapid action and redress.
With Deepest Respect,
Comfort Women Justice Coalition (CWJC)
[Japanese colonialism] [Japanese remilitarisation] [France]
“The Most Dangerous Base in the World”
July 15, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 14 | Number 1
In June this year VFP-ROCK (Veterans for Peace Ryukyu-Okinawa Chapter International) drafted a formal letter – military style – based on research by ROCK member Makishi Yoshikazu, pointing out that Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (MCAS Futenma), by having no actual clear zones at either end of its airstrip, is in violation of US Military safety regulations and, for the safety of both the residents living and working around the base and the Marines flying aircraft in and out of the base, ought to be shut down immediately. We mailed signed copies of this letter to eleven US government officials, beginningwith Secretary of Defense James Mattis. We then rewrote the letter in the style of news commentary and published it in The Diplomat in its March 30, 2018 edition. A slightly revised version of that article is, with The
Diplomat’s permission, printed here.
Return to top of page
UNESCO Panel Highlights Japanese Brutality in Korea
By Ahn Jun-yong
June 28, 2018 11:09
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Wednesday adopted a resolution calling on the Japanese government to inform the world about brutality against Korean forced laborers on Japan's Hashima Island during its occupation of Korea.
The committee met in Bahrain and reviewed follow-up measures Japan had promised when 23 industrial facilities in Japan, including those on Hashima Island, were granted heritage status back in 2015.
At the time, Japan admitted Koreans were forced to labor on the island during the 1910-1945 occupation, and pledged to commemorate the victims and set up an information center to teach others about its brutal history.
But in a progress report submitted in November last year, Japan omitted the term "forced" and decided to set up an information center in the form of a think tank in Tokyo rather than a commemorative center.
Abductee issue on back burner in Japan after successful NK-US summit
Posted on : Jun.27,2018 16:09 KST Modified on : Jun.27,2018 16:09 KST
Yohei Kono acknowledges Japan’s colonial rule is original cause behind Korean division
Haruki Wada (center), professor emeritus at Tokyo University, partakes in a debate session titled, “Resume Negotiations about Normalizing Japan’s Diplomatic Relations with North Korea” on June 25.
Since the June 12 North Korea-US summit, some Japanese have been arguing that the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea should be put on the back burner so that diplomatic relations with North Korea can be normalized or so that the normalization of diplomatic relations can be negotiated while the two sides work on resolving the abductee issue.
The first person to openly voice this argument – which has not been easy to make given the rightward shift of Japanese society – was Yohei Kono, former chief cabinet secretary and the architect of the 1993 Kono Statement, which acknowledged the compulsory nature of the recruitment of the comfort women and the Japanese imperial army’s involvement in their recruitment.
[Japan NK] [Abductees] [Diplomatic relations] [Bizarre]
Japan's Foreign Ministry Launches N.Korean Affairs Office
By Lee Ha-won
June 26, 2018 12:34
The Japanese Foreign Ministry will launch a North Korean affairs office to prepare for negotiations with the rogue regime.
A diplomatic source in Tokyo said Monday that the office will be spun off from the Northeast Asia Division of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
About 50 diplomats currently work in the division, and about one-third of them will concentrate on North Korea.
The office will probably look for ways of including Japan in the North's denuclearization process and engaging in negotiations on the Japanese victims of the regime's bizarre abduction campaign in the 1970s and 80s.
Tokyo has also worked out a plan to send Japanese nuclear decommissioning experts to the North. It hopes they can take part based on their experience of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the wake of the 2011 earthquake, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Sunday.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono will visit the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna soon to promote the idea.
[Japan NK] [Sidelined]
Source: Kim Jong Un willing to hold summit with Abe
By Yoshihiro Makino/ Correspondent
June 14, 2018 at 17:15 JST
SEOUL--North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is prepared to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe within the next few months, a South Korean intelligence source said June 14.
Kim indicated his willingness to hold talks with the Japanese leader during the June 12 summit in Singapore with U.S. President Donald Trump, who raised the issue of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, the source said.
Trump strongly urged Kim to hold talks with Japan, and Kim reportedly responded that he wanted to promote dialogue with Tokyo.
It was not clear if Kim mentioned a specific date or agenda topics for such a meeting with Abe.
North Korea has repeatedly declared that the abduction issue has been resolved, but Kim did not express such a belief during his summit with Trump, the source said.
[Abe Kim] [Abductees] [Petard]
Return to top of page
Japan desperate to add hardline agenda to North Korea-US summit
Posted on : May.30,2018 16:18 KST Modified on : May.30,2018 16:18 KST
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is arranging a visit to Singapore early next month. Furthermore, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reached an agreement in a phone call with US President Donald Trump to hold a US-Japan summit before the North Korea-US summit is held. The Japanese government appears bent on achieving as much of its hardline agenda toward North Korea as possible before the North Korea-US summit, which is scheduled for June 12.
[Japan] [Abe Shinzo] [Kim_Trump_talks18] [Sidelined]
Inter-Korea Summit: How One Japanese Views The Japanese Mainstream Attitudes toward the North-South Detente on the Peninsula
The core of the Korean nuclear threat undoubtedly lies with the United States, who first brought nuclear weapons to the Peninsula in 1958.
Satoko Oka Norimatsu
"How should each citizen of Japan, the former colonizer, look at the way the leaders of the divided Koreas have held hands and pledged the solidarity of their people towards a shared future?" (Photo: Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)
"How should each citizen of Japan, the former colonizer, look at the way the leaders of the divided Koreas have held hands and pledged the solidarity of their people towards a shared future?" (Photo: Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)
After 70 years of division, leaders Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea (“the ROK” below) and Kim Jong-Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“the DPRK” below), crossed the DMZ in unison for the first time. This was a historic moment that moved many people, myself included, to tears, but as a Japanese citizen, I felt an unbearable sense of shame, for the Japanese government is doing nothing apparently to contribute to this movement, and worse still, seems to be inhibiting it.
Modern Japan exploited the Korean Peninsula as a stepping stone to its continental invasion, forcefully annexing the peninsula in 1910 and exercising over it extremely inhumane colonial rule for 35 years. Japan’s defeat and the following liberation of the Korean Peninsula in 1945 only made way for the United States’ intervention that divided the Peninsula at the thirty-eighth parallel. The United States used the local, pro-Japanese populations to establish South Korea as its anti-Communist military stronghold.
The divided Peninsula was made into a major “hot” battlefield of the early Cold War years. During the Korean War years from 1950 to 1953, the United States conducted airstrikes, dropping four times the number of bombs on Korea as it used on Japan during the 1945 air raids. Most of North Korea’s major urban centers and thousands of villages were destroyed. Rather than reflecting on its brutal acts in Korea, Japan just enjoyed the great profits from this war. Even now, many Japanese remember the Korean War days rather as a time of economic boom.
Despite the great reduction in the number of tactical nuclear weapons following the 1991 treaty, it is nonetheless this nuclear superpower that continues to exert military power through Korea and Japan (particularly Okinawa), with bases, stationed personnel, and repeated military exercises—effectively acts of war.
The core of the Korean nuclear threat undoubtedly lies with the United States, who first brought nuclear weapons to the Peninsula in 1958. Despite the great reduction in the number of tactical nuclear weapons following the 1991 treaty, it is nonetheless this nuclear superpower that continues to exert military power through Korea and Japan (particularly Okinawa), with bases, stationed personnel, and repeated military exercises—effectively acts of war. The idea that only the DPRK should get rid of nuclear weapons and that such action amounts to the denuclearization of the entire peninsula is a convenient interpretation made by the United States and its many client states, including Japan.
Trilateral North East Asia Summit Signals a Return to Cooperation
Senior Adviser, North East Asia
What’s the significance of the 7th China-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Summit?
The main purpose of the meeting was simply to showcase good vibes among the three leaders. Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul are trying to overcome contemporary disputes and historical grievances so that they can promote regional trade and investment and coordinate their policies, particularly on North Korea. There were three broad priorities: improve diplomatic relations, manage the Korean peninsula crisis and make progress on cooperation mechanisms, as the joint statement emphasizes.
Japan sharpens hardline language about Korea in foreign policy report
Posted on : May.16,2018 17:13 KST Modified on : May.16,2018 17:13 KST
Omits phrase “South Korea is our most important neighbor”
The cover of Japan’s 2018 Diplomatic Bluebook, which was released on May 15.
There was a noticeable increase of hardline language in the 2018 Diplomatic Bluebook released by the Japanese government on May 15, including the statement that the “Sea of Japan” is the only term with international legal standing for the body of water known in Korea as the “East Sea.” The Diplomatic Bluebook is a report by Japan’s Foreign Ministry that proposes foreign policy directions for Japan while taking into account how the diplomatic landscape around Japan changed during the previous year.
Phrases on several topics shored up Japan’s one-sided claims and downgraded its relations with South Korea. This year’s edition of the bluebook omitted the phrase “South Korea is our most important neighbor” and only said that “Solidarity and cooperation between South Korea and Japan is indispensable for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.”
Japanese railway company apologises for train leaving 25 seconds too early
One customer complained after failing to board the train
A Japanese rail company has apologised for “any inconvenience” caused to customers after a train left the station 25 seconds early.
Japan has one of the most punctual railway services in the world, and so it was deemed an incident worthy of a public press release, apology and an internal investigation when the 7.12am train at Notogawa Station left at 7.11am and 35 seconds.
West Japan Railways (known as JR-West) did point out that the train, destined for Nishi-Akashi Station in Hyogo prefecture, arrived at its next stop after Notogawa precisely at “the prescribed time”.
Moon vows utmost efforts for denuclearization
The Yomiuri Shimbun
South Korean President Moon Jae In expressed his expectations for the U.S.-North Korea summit meeting during a recent written interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, ahead of his visit to Japan for a three-way summit meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The Yomiuri Shimbun: South Korea and North Korea agreed on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during the inter-Korean summit meeting on April 27. What results do you expect concerning the denuclearization of North Korea from the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit meeting?
[Moon Jae-in] [Sequencing]
President Moon Jae-in says denuclearization is essential for normalizing Pyongyang’s relations with Washington and Tokyo
Posted on : May.9,2018 16:43 KST Modified on : May.9,2018 16:43 KST
South Korean president gives written interview with Japanese paper before trilateral summit in Tokyo
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gave a written interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper ahead of a May 9 trilateral summit in Tokyo with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Published on May 8, the interview depicted President Moon stressing his plans to play a role in using North Korean leader’s “firm commitment to complete denuclearization” as established in a recent inter-Korean summit as groundwork for normalizing Pyongyang’s relations with Washington and Tokyo.
To begin with, President Moon stressed in the interview that “establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and shared prosperity for South and North is only possible through real progress in denuclearization, and through normalization of North Korea-US relations and the establishment of a permanent peace regime on that basis.”
[Moon Jae-in] [Sequencing]
N. Korea says abduction issue resolved, blasts Abe’s stance
By HAJIMU TAKEDA/ Correspondent
May 13, 2018 at 15:00 JST
SEOUL--State-run North Korean media criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese leaders on May 12 for pressing the “already resolved” issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents.
“It is a clumsy and foolish attempt for reactionary elements in Japan to again bring up the ‘abduction issue,’ which was already resolved,” the Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary.
It also blasted the Abe administration’s calls for a continuation of sanctions against and maximum pressure maintained on Pyongyang.
[Abe Shinzo] [Abductees] [Derail] [Pretext]
Return to top of page
US neglect and Russian respect in Japan
1 May 2018
Author: Magnus Lundström, Swedish Defence University
The Japan–US alliance was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War and is an integral part of Tokyo and Washington’s foreign policies. But lately there have been signs of neglect of Japan on Washington’s part, while the relationship between Russia and Japan seems closer than it has been for many years. The Trump administration’s behaviour towards Japan only enhances Moscow’s rapprochement with one of the United States’ oldest allies.
Japan Flaps Over Dokdo Dessert at Inter-Korean Summit
By Kim Soo-hye
April 26, 2018 11:26
The Japanese government has protested against the South Korean government's decision to serve a dessert at the inter-Korean summit with a map of the Korean Peninsula that includes the Dokdo islets.
A dessert to be served at the inter-Korean summit /Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae
According to Japanese media on Wednesday, Kenji Kanasugi, the Japanese Foreign Ministry's director-general for Asian and Oceania affairs, called in Lee Hee-seop, a diplomat at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo, to lodge a protest.
Japan insists on a flimsy colonial-era claim to the Korean islets that has poisoned relations for years.
Tokyo's beady eye spotted the detail when Cheong Wa Dae unveiled the menu, and it was sufficiently outraged for the Japanese Embassy in Seoul also to lodge a complaint with the Foreign Ministry here.
Kanasugi in a baffling comment said the map must not be allowed during the summit because the meeting is "political" in nature.
Most major Japanese media reported the pudding scandal.
[Summit18] [Joint Korean] [Dokdo]
The Comfort Women Controversy - Lessons from Taiwan
Thomas J. Ward
April 15, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 8 | Number 5
Taiwan was surrendered to Imperial Japan by China’s Qing dynasty in 1895, fifteen years prior to Japan’s annexation of Korea. Like Korea, Taiwan’s women and girls were subsequently conscripted into Japan’s military “comfort women” (ianfu) system. The author notes significant differences between the treatment of the women in the two colonies and in the remembrance of the comfort woman systems. In Korea, dozens of comfort women statues and memorials commemorate the system’s victims 1 while not one such statue exists in Taiwan. In December 2016, eighteen years after Korea opened its first of two comfort women museums, the Ama (Grandmother) Museum was opened in Taipei. While the museum in Taipei chronicles the Taiwanese comfort women’s plight, its message represents more than an indictment of Japan or a pursuit of redress for the system’s victims. The museum and its sponsors find ways to apply the lessons of this tragedy to the ongoing challenges of human trafficking and domestic violence.
[Comfort women] [Taiwan] [Taiwan Korea comparison]
Former Japan PM Koizumi says embattled Abe may quit in June: magazine
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, plagued by suspected cronyism scandals and cover-ups and with his ratings sliding, will likely step down in June, former leader Junichiro Koizumi was quoted on Monday as telling a weekly magazine.
FILE PHOTO: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader, delivers a speech during the LDP annual party convention in Tokyo, Japan March 25, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato
A survey by broadcaster Nippon TV released on Sunday showed Abe’s support had sunk to 26.7 percent, the lowest since the conservative lawmaker took office in December 2012. An Asahi newspaper poll published on Monday put his rating at 31 percent.
Abe’s sliding ratings raise doubts over whether he can win a third three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader in a September vote, that he needs to win to stay in office, or whether he might even resign before the party vote.
Former cabinet minister Shigeru Ishiba, who wants to challenge Abe for the top post, topped a list of politicians that respondents to a weekend Kyodo news agency survey saw as best suited to become the next premier, with 26.6 percent.
[Abe Shinzo] [Koizumi] [Ishiba]
Japan activates first marines since WW2 to bolster defenses against China
Nobuhiro Kubo, Tim Kelly
Japan on Saturday activated its first marine unit since World War Two trained to counter invaders occupying Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea that Tokyo fears are vulnerable to attack by China.
Soldiers of Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF)'s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, Japan's first marine unit since World War Two, gather at a ceremony activating the brigade at JGSDF's Camp Ainoura in Sasebo, on the southwest island of Kyushu, Japan April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato
In a ceremony held at a military base near Sasebo on the southwest island of Kyushu, about 1,500 members of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) wearing camouflage lined up outside amid cold, windy weather.
“Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate,” Tomohiro Yamamoto, vice defense minister, said in a speech.
The troops conducted a 20-minute mock public exercise recapturing a remote island from invaders.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [China confrontation]
Kono gets short shrift over call about N. Korea’s nuclear plans
By Nobuhiko Tajima/ Staff Writer
April 5, 2018 at 15:00 JST
Foreign Minister Taro Kono got a scathing reaction from the international community over his call to not be taken in by North Korea's latest charm offensive.
Kono insists that North Korea is gearing up for a seventh nuclear test, but his warning has fallen on deaf ears.
“(North Korea) is working hard for its next nuclear test,” Kono asserted in a lecture he gave in Kochi on March 31.
On April 2, 38 North, a website operated by Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies that is devoted to analysis about North Korea, posted an article dismissing Kono’s contention based on current activity at the nuclear test site.
“Commercial satellite imagery from March 23 shows quite a different picture: namely, that activity at the Punggye-ri test site has been significantly reduced compared to previous months,” the article says.
Kono did not share his source of information on North Korea's supposed test preparations.
However, he stuck to his guns April 3 and after a Cabinet meeting told reporters, "Given the information available, it is clear that activity is continuing at (North Korean) nuclear-related facilities, including the test site.”
The same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed frustration over Kono’s remark during a news conference.
“We don’t want anything to spoil things in the middle of our endeavors to solve issues in the Korean Peninsula through dialogue,” said Geng.
In the same conference, Geng conceded that Japan got the "cold shoulder” from other nations with regard to recent developments concerning North Korea, noting that diplomatic exchanges with Pyongyang have started in earnest.
[Tension] [Disinformation] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Japan’s Indo-Pacific strategy falls short
by James D.J. Brown
• Apr 3, 2018
The Free and Open Indo-Pacific has become one of the key concepts in Japan’s contemporary foreign policy. Foreign Minister Taro Kono has included it as one of his six priorities, and Japan has worked hard to convince other countries, including the United Kingdom and France, to endorse it. However, while the principled rhetoric about the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) may sound appealing, Japan’s actions raise questions about whether the strategy is really anything more than window dressing for the pursuit of Japan’s narrow economic and strategic interests.
Japanese Foreign Minister’s Reports of North Korea Preparing for Another Nuclear Test Not Supported by Commercial Satellite Imagery
By: 38 North
April 2, 2018
A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., and Jack Liu.
On March 31, 2018, Japan’s Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, in a lecture in Kochi city, is reported to have said that North Korea appears to be “working hard to get ready for the next nuclear test,” and the associated reporting claims that he had added that soil had been “removed from the tunnel at the nuclear test site where past tests were conducted.” The reporting also suggested that his remarks “may be based on satellite imagery provided by the United States.”
While it is unclear whether the Foreign Minister was referring to activity observed over the last few days or from earlier work conducted after North Korea’s September 2017 nuclear test, commercial satellite imagery from March 23 shows quite a different picture: namely, that activity at the test site has been significantly reduced compared to previous months. Tunneling at the West Portal, a site not associated with any of North Korea’s previous tests, had been active earlier this year but has slowed down significantly as has other personnel and vehicular movement around the site. (It appears that only a small amount of new spoil has been excavated from the tunnel recently).
[Test] [Japan] [Hype] [Tension]
Japan's Kono hints at North Korea nuclear activity amid easing tensions
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Foreign Minister Taro Kono suggested Saturday there are signs North Korea is preparing to again test a nuclear weapon, even as tensions on the Korean Peninsula are easing ahead of summit talks between the leaders of the two Koreas.
North Korea appears to be "working hard to get ready for the next nuclear test," Kono said in a lecture in Kochi city, referring to soil removal from the tunnel at the nuclear test site where past tests were conducted.
His remarks may be based on satellite imagery provided by the United States.
As for the possibility of summit talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kono expressed caution over acting hastily to Pyongyang's recent charm offensive.
[Test] [Japan] [Hype] [Tension]
Return to top of page
Japan Eyes Summit with N.Korea in Early June
By Kim Soo-hye
March 30, 2018 11:21
A Japan-North Korea summit may take place in early June. Japan's Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday that training material produced by the North Korean Workers Party contains a reference to that effect.
The training document hails leader Kim Jong-un's diplomatic prowess and explains his goals involving relations with South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
"The Japanese government has been voicing its intention to hold talks through Chongryon," a pro-North Korean residents group in Japan. "The Japan-North Korea summit will be held in Pyongyang in early June following the U.S.-North Korea summit in May."
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo is communicating with Pyongyang through the Japanese Embassy in China and other channels but did not elaborate.
Japan afraid of being excluded from N. Korea talks
Posted : 2018-03-19 14:42
Updated : 2018-03-19 16:10
President Moon Jae-in speaks with Japanese Prime Minister on the phone on March 16 to discuss the latest developments with North Korea. / Yonhap
By Yi Whan-woo
Japan is stepping up efforts to join talks with North Korea after stressing the importance of sanctions over dialogue for Pyongyang's denuclearization.
Some diplomatic sources say Tokyo's abrupt shift in its North Korea policy is to avoid being left behind, as the other five shareholders of the Korean Peninsula including the U.S., China and Russia, have thrown their support behind inter-Korean reconciliation.
Other sources say Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to divert public attention amid a mounting scandal involving his wife and the sale of state-owned land.
Japan had remained skeptical about dialogue with North Korea despite a series of reconciliatory steps between the two Koreas since January, such as the announcement on March 6 of a planned summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States, Second Edition
Gavan McCormack and Satoko Oka Norimatsu
Now in a thoroughly updated edition, Resistant Islands offers the first comprehensive overview of Okinawan history from earliest times to the present, focusing especially on the recent period of colonization by Japan, its disastrous fate during World War II, and its current status as a glorified US military base. The base is a hot-button issue in Japan and has become more widely known in the wake of Japan’s 2011 natural disasters and the US military role in emergency relief. Okinawa rejects the base-dominated role allocated it by the US and Japanese governments under which priority attaches to its military functions, as a kind of stationary aircraft carrier. The result has been to throw US-Japan relations into crisis, bringing down one prime minister who tried to stop construction of yet another base on the island and threatening the incumbent if he is unable to deliver Okinawan approval of the new base. Okinawa thus has become a template for reassessing the troubled US-Japan relationship—indeed, the geopolitics of the US empire of bases in the Pacific. « less
Japan moves to hold Abe-Kim Jong-un meeting: reports
Posted : 2018-03-14 13:50
Updated : 2018-03-14 15:28
By Park Si-soo
Japan is moving to hold a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, local media reported on Wednesday.
The Japanese government did not confirm this. If true, it reflects Tokyo's increasing fears of being left behind in dealing with the North, with the leaders of South Korea and the United States set to meet Kim in April and May, respectively.
A spokeswoman for Japan's foreign ministry told AFP that she could not confirm any concrete plans for a summit.
But she added, "we will be studying our policies from the viewpoint of what is most effective" to resolve the issues of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs as well as the abduction of Japanese citizens by Pyongyang.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japan NK] [Sidelined]
Return to top of page
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
by Joseph Essertier
February 23, 2018
“Making North Korea into an ever-present threat has helped Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his circle of ultranationalist government officials unify the nation behind their government. Recent escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang only help promote the narrative that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies are good for Japan, keeping the population focused on an external enemy.” I hereby admit that I stole most of the wording in the previous two sentences from CNN. All I had to do was exchange one group of actors for another.
Below I outline five reasons why Abe and his circle of ultranationalists hate the Olympic Truce and are looking forward to getting back to “maximum pressure” (i.e., preventing peace between North and South Korea through genocidal sanctions, threats of a second holocaust on the Korean Peninsula, etc.)
1/ Family Honor
Some of Japan’s top ultranationalists, including Japan’s Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, have ancestors who were major beneficiaries of Japan’s empire, and they also want to restore the “honor” of those ancestors, people who tortured, murdered, and exploited Koreans, among others. Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister, is the grandson of Kishi Nobusuke, an A-class war criminal who barely escaped the death penalty. Kishi was a protégé of Hideki Tojo. The relationship between these two went back to 1931 and to their colonialist exploitation of resources and people in Manchuria, including the forced labor of Koreans and Chinese, for their own sake as well as for the Empire of Japan. The slave system that Kishi established there opened the door to the military sex trafficking of women from Japan, Korea, China, and other countries.
[Japanese remilitarisation] [Threat] [Kishi]
Japan Can Never Evade Responsibility for Crime of Sexual Slavery
Submitted by KCNA on Fri, 02/23/2018 - 08:53
Pyongyang, February 23 (KCNA) -- Ri Hye Yong, a researcher at the Human Rights Division of the DPRK Institute of International Studies, Thursday issued an article titled "Japan Can Never Evade Responsibility for Crime of Sexual Slavery".
When people come up with the words "sexual slavery", they call to mind a country, called Japan, the article said, adding:
That is because Japan is the most despicable and audacious country in the world, which in the first half of the last century forced hundreds of thousands of women from Korea and several other countries into the humiliating sexual slavery and neither felt the slightest remorse nor reflected on its past for over a century.
Nevertheless, Japan recently keeps harping on "championing women's empowerment" deceitfully in the international arenas including the UN. What is worse, it impudently seeks to cover up its past crime by paying a trivial sum of money.
The article cited data to disclose that the sexual slavery was a crime of organized and massive abuse of women's right, perpetrated by the Japanese government and military from its contrivance to the execution as a state policy.
It went on:
Japan is bent on refusing to recognize its legal and moral state responsibility for the sexual slavery. Underlying it is its intention to repeat its history of aggression and crime by training not only the rising generations but also all its citizens in the spirit of revanchism and militarism.
For that reason, the international community vehemently denounces the Abe government for making frantic efforts to repeat Japan's crime-ridden past by turning Japanese citizens into brutes in human skin again.
However strongly it advocates "women's human rights" and whatever cunning tricks it employs, Japan cannot cover up its past crimes for the sexual slavery--the A-class state-sponsored crime against humanity that has left an indelible mark in mankind's history.
If Japan refuses to reflect honestly on the nation's wrongful past and make a sincere apology for its past crime, it will continue to be subjected to strong international condemnation and it cannot evade the responsibility for the disgraceful crime of sexual slavery. -0
Is Japan About to Hit Its Nuclear Tipping Point?
Tokyo almost built a bomb in 1945 and now has enough plutonium stockpiled for 5,000 nukes. North Korea may give its hawkish government an excuse to build them.
02.15.18 5:24 AM ET
TOKYO—“Don’t be fooled by North Korea’s smiley-face diplomacy,” Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Kono, warned last week in the middle of the Winter Olympics’ warm fuzzy photo ops with Hermit Kingdom emissaries.
Kono’s skepticism was quite serious, as is the confrontation he sees looming. Earlier this month he shocked Japan by broaching the idea that the Japanese should gain access to “usable” nuclear weapons, and he lavished praise on U.S. President Donald Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review.
While much of the rest of the world was entranced by North Korean cheerleaders and Kim Jong Un’s baby sister, Japan was quietly considering if and when to build its own nuclear missiles to discourage North Korea from so much as contemplating a missile strike.
The hawkish government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling coalition are exploiting real and unreal fears of a North Korean nuclear attack to drum up support for a Japan that can wage war, and possibly as a prelude to pushing harder for nuclear weapons development.
[Abe Shinzo] [Threat] [Japanese remilataristion] [Nuclearisation]
Nuclear Hawks Take the Reins in Tokyo
Gregory Kulacki, China project manager and senior analyst | February 16, 2018, 8:37 am EST
Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Taro Kono shake hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis before sitting down for U.S.-Japan security talks.
Donald Trump’s plan for a more muscular US nuclear posture got a ringing endorsement from the increasingly right-wing government of Japan. Not long after the Trump administration released its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in early February, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said he “highly appreciates” the new approach to US nuclear weapons policy, including the emphasis on low-yield nuclear options the United States and Japan can rely on to respond to non-nuclear threats.
Kono’s endorsement of Trump’s NPR was a surprise to those who saw him as a moderate who could temper Prime Minister Abe’s geopolitical ambitions, which include amending Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow for an expansion of the size and role of Japan’s military forces.
Support within the conservative leadership of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) for an increased US emphasis on the role of nuclear weapons is not new. Nine years ago, foreign ministry officials loyal to the LDP testified to a US congressional commission advising the Obama administration on US nuclear weapons policy. Their testimony reads like a blueprint for some of the most controversial sections of Trump’s NPR—especially its emphasis on low-yield nuclear weapons, which used to be called tactical nuclear weapons because they were options for fighting limited nuclear wars against nuclear and non-nuclear states, rather than strategically deterring the use of nuclear weapons by others.
Prime Minister Abe recently promoted one of the officials who testified to the commission in 2009, Takeo Akiba, to the top bureaucratic post in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Akiba and the rest of the LDP’s nuclear hawks may have had to wait a long time to get what they wanted, but their view of the role of US nuclear weapons in Asia is about to become official US government policy.
[Abe Shinzo] [Threat] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Nuclearisation]
Ramo Reminded South Koreans of the Brutality of Imperial Japan
by Joseph Essertier
Photo by Valentin Janiaut | CC BY 2.0
It is sad that even now, at this hopeful juncture in the history of Korea, when the end of the Korean War could be just around the corner, that we are confronted with the false claim that South Koreans cannot take pride in the democratic and modern country they have built. A country that is now generously hosting the Olympic games. A country whose president, Moon Jae-in, is bringing hope to millions in East Asia and the world. A hope that is being kept alive by his spirit of independence, his message to not only South Koreans but to the whole world, that a peaceful solution to the US-North Korea crisis can be found as long as the baying hounds of war in Washington can be kept at bay.
The recent firing of NBC’s Asia correspondent Joshua Cooper Ramo for his “insensitive” remarks while commenting on the Olympics serve to remind us not only of the general lack of understanding in the US concerning the current US-North Korea crisis but also highlight the racism and arrogance underlying US attempts to derail the peace process and how the peace process threatens their demonization of North Korea, a demonization essential to the “bloody nose” they so desperately want to inflict.
Japanese government sets up emergency notification system for its citizens in South Korea
Posted on : Feb.10,2018 16:36 KST Modified on : Feb.10,2018 16:36 KST
The new method utilizes e-mail and cell phone services to confirm safety of Japanese nationals
President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their summit at the Blisshill Stay at Yongpyong Resort in Pyeongchang County, Gangwon Province on Feb. 9.
According to a report carried in the Mainichi Shimbun on February 9, the Japanese government has set up a special system using email and cell-phone services to confirm the safety and whereabouts of Japanese citizens residing in South Korea in cases of emergency. The system was tested in Seoul on January 30 before going into full operation.
Japanese citizens who will be out of the country for three months or more are required to register their cell-phone number and email address with the government so that they can be notified of military contingencies, terrorist attacks, or other emergency circumstances. Such notifications include a URL that the recipients are to click on and report their name, age, current location, and safety status.
[Evacuation] [Hysteria] [Abe Shinzo] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Japan worried Korean thaw will melt united front against Pyongyang
• Feb 11, 2018
Progress in repairing ties between North and South Korea has prompted concern in Tokyo that Seoul may rush into dialogue with Pyongyang at the expense of the “maximum pressure” campaign espoused by Japan and the United States.
“South Korea might run off ahead on a course of dialogue,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said in the wake of Saturday’s talks in Seoul between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and a high-level North Korean delegation at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics’ Opening Ceremony a day earlier.
The delegation gave Moon a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inviting him to visit the North, a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he and Moon had reaffirmed their shared stance of maximizing pressure on Pyongyang until it scraps its nuclear weapons program.
[Olympics18] [Detente] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Wedge]
Mikhail Gorbachev sends a message to Okinawa: Okinawa must be for the people, not for the military
Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev sent a message to Okinawa, which continues to suffer from military oppression from the United States and Japan by their forceful construction of a new military base. See below for an English translation.
A message for Okinawa from Mikhail Gorbachev
Knowing now about the presence of nuclear weapons in Okinawa during the Cold War era, as revealed in a recent NHK program, my heart aches with concern that there could still be nuclear weapons stored in Okinawa. It is essential that the truth be disclosed to the residents of Okinawa.
I have always stood up for nuclear disarmament and ultimately a complete abolition of nuclear weapons. At the same time I have argued against the use of military force in resolving international disputes.
At the Soviet-US summit in Geneva in 1985, we (President Reagan and myself) issued a joint statement that said, “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” and disseminated it throughout the world.
From this perspective I have invariably supported the struggle against military expansion in Okinawa by the people of Okinawa, and I will support it from here on out.
Okinawa’s rich nature and distinctive culture make it unique in this world. Therefore the islands of Okinawa must be for the people, not for the military.
Other than the natural, cultural, and touristic resources, Okinawa is also blessed with its geopolitical location, which I believe allows it to be a terminal for international human and cultural exchange as well as trade.
It is my sincere hope that Okinawan people take advantage of this rich environment and aim for peaceful development of the islands, for the sake of future generations.
I wholeheartedly agree with the Pope’s words in January this year: “We need to shift from the culture of war to culture of peace.”
January 23, 2018
[Okinawa] [Bases] [Nuclear weapons]
Japan’s Far-right Politicians, Hate Speech and Historical Denial – Branding Okinawa as “Anti-Japan”
Mark Ealey and Satoko Oka Norimatsu
January 31, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 3 | Number 2
As part of this latest phase of what Japanese right-wing extremists refer to as the rekishi-sen (history wars), the Abe administration is now mobilizing female storm troopers such as Sugita Mio into the fray launching an aggressive, almost libelous, attack on overseas-based Japanese peace-activists. In her article Norimatsu outlines some of the key characteristics of how Japanese history deniers operate when overseas.
Sugita Mio is an LDP member of the House of Representatives who returned to parliament in 2017. A former civil servant of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, Sugita retired from her job in 2010 and joined her first political party, Minna no To (Your Party). From there she switched to Nihon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and was elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in December 2012. When the Restoration Party dissolved, she joined the new far-right party called Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) led by former Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro. She lost her seat in the House in the December 2014 election. Between then and her come-back last year, in conjunction with the far-right women’s group Nadeshiko Action, she pursued a neo-nationalist agenda centering on the denial of the history of Japanese military sexual slavery during the Asia-Pacific War. She is a board member of Atarashii Kyokasho wo Tsukuru Kai (Japan Society for History Textbook Reform).
[History wars] [Comfort women] [Hate speech]
Koreas' uniform patch won't depict Dokdo
Posted : 2018-02-06 15:10
Updated : 2018-02-06 18:21
By Nam Hyun-woo
Dokdo, Korea's easternmost island, will be removed from the patch on the two Koreas' uniforms for the PyeongChang Olympic Games opening ceremony, officials said, Tuesday.
According to the Korea Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC), the athletes will wear uniforms bearing a patch depicting the Korean Peninsula without Dokdo, which Japan claims as its territory.
During a warm-up match between the joint Korean women's ice hockey team and Sweden, Feb. 4, the team wore uniforms bearing a patch showing the Korean Peninsula and Dokdo. Instead of the national flag, a flag bearing the same image was also hoisted during the match held in Incheon.
Following the match, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo had filed a protest with Seoul through diplomatic channels.
[Dokdo] [SK Japan] [Olympics18]
Abe to Urge Moon Not to Scale Down Joint Drill with U.S.
By Kim Soo-hye
February 05, 2018 09:28
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will ask President Moon Jae-in not to scale down joint drills with the U.S. when the two leaders meet Friday, Japanese media reported Sunday. The annual drills have been postponed until after the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Abe also wants to ask U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who will also be in Korea for the Olympics, to ensure that the joint military exercises are not scaled down.
"The matter will be discussed when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence meets with Abe in Tokyo before heading to the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and they are expected to agree on the need to conduct the drill as normal," Kyodo News reported. "Abe and Pence will convey their shared view to South Korean President Moon Jae-in when they hold talks in Pyeongchang."
Abe will also urge Moon for help in evacuating Japanese expats here in the event of an emergency.
The Japanese government plans to evacuate 60,000 Japanese citizens residing here to the southern port of Busan and then taking them back to Japan via Tsushima Island. Instead of mobilizing its own armed forces, which would not be welcome near the Korean Peninsula, Tokyo would rely on the U.S. Navy.
[Abe Shinzo] [Belligerence] [Joint US military]
Japan upset by flag raised at unified Korean ice hockey game
The Asahi Shimbun
February 5, 2018 at 14:30 JST
The flag that got Japan's back up is displayed during a joint North and South Korean women's ice hockey team friendly in Incheon, South Korea, on Feb. 4. (Nobuhiro Shirai)
Japan took umbrage over a flag hoisted by the joint North and South Korean women's ice hockey team showing a unified Korean Peninsula with a group of islets at the center of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Seoul.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Feb. 5 Tokyo had filed a protest with Seoul through diplomatic channels.
“We cannot accept the flag in light of our country’s position and find the matter extremely regrettable," Suga said. "We are urging South Korea very strongly to make an appropriate response.”
The flag was hoisted during a friendly game in the South Korean city of Incheon on Feb. 4 ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games that kick off Feb. 9.
The Japanese government was irked that the flag includes the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan. The islets are claimed by Japan but administered by South Korea, which calls them Dokdo.
[Olympics18] [Joint Korean] [Dokdo] [Japan Korea]
Return to top of page
[News Analysis] Abe’s attendance at Olympics likely based on domestic political factors
Posted on : Jan.25,2018 16:38 KST Modified on : Jan.25,2018 16:38 KST
Disagreement over implementation of 2015 comfort women agreement remains unresolved
The biggest factor behind Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement that he will attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month appears to have been the domestic political situation in Japan. With little momentum for constitutional reform and a poor approval rating, Abe likely concluded that it’s in his interest to call for the implementation of the comfort women agreement reached on Dec. 28, 2015, and for a tough stance on North Korea. But since South Korean President Moon Jae-in has announced his plan to approach the issues of past and future separately by pursuing the development of a future-oriented relationship with Japan while holding that the comfort women issue was not resolved by the Dec. 2015 agreement, it remains to be seen how the two leaders will deal with this issue in their meeting.
[Abe] [Olympics18] [Comfort women]
Japanese PM further downgrades country’s relationship with South Korea
Posted on : Jan.23,2018 16:37 KST Modified on : Jan.23,2018 16:37 KST
speaking to the Diet on Jan. 22. (Yonhap News)
Shinzo Abe’s speech emphasized his desire to make changes to Japan’s constitution
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to further downgrade his country’s relationship with South Korea in policy speech before the Diet of Japan on Jan 22. His remarks seemed to be a response to follow-up measures recently announced by Seoul in connection with the two sides’ 2015 agreement on the Japanese military comfort women issue.
Abe’s speech for the opening of the Diet’s regular session did not include a description of South Korea as Japan’s “most important neighbor,” which has been used since 2015. In his 2013 and 2014 speeches, Abe called South Korea Japan’s “most important neighbor, which shares our basic values and interests,” but the reference to “basic values” has been omitted since 2015.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japan SK] [Comfort women]
U.S. Military Base Construction at Henoko-Oura Bay and the Okinawan Governor’s Strategy to Stop It
Hideki Yoshikawa, with an introduction by Gavan McCormack
January 16, 2018
This paper analyses the present (2018) state of the struggle between the government of Japan and the government and people of the prefecture of Okinawa, focussing on its most recent phase, since the Okinawan prefectural complaint was dismissed by the Supreme Court in December 2016. Governor Onaga then revoked his 2015 cancellation of the 2013 license to reclaim parts of Oura Bay as site for the base construction and works resumed in April 2017 after one year in suspension.
Since then, Governor Onaga has repeatedly declared that he will rescind the license under which those works are being carried out, but has given no indication as to when.
Work now continues, at an accelerating pace, and the Governor has recently issued permits allowing ports in Northern Okinawa to be used for transport of construction materials.
This paper analyses the apparent contradictions in the Governor's stance and the way they are understood within the protest movement.
[Okinawa] [Bases] [Protest]
Japanese in Ranam in the 1940s
Posted : 2018-01-21 12:32
Updated : 2018-01-21 15:28
Setting up artillery in the snow.
By Robert Neff
A young soldier and his mount.
Gazing at their faces it is hard to tell their ages: some look like boys while others look like young men. One soldier does an impressive handstand on his horse's saddle ? a feat of youthful confidence and trust in his mount. Another soldier lovingly embraces his horse after he has apparently brushed and rubbed it down following a ride.
We do not know who these young men were, apart from that they were members of the Imperial Japanese Army's 19th Division, which had moved to the Ranam area of North Hamgyong province in northern Korea in the late 1910s.
This region was infamous for ferocious and brazen tigers as confirmed by newspaper accounts of tiger attacks in village markets in daylight claiming the lives of men and domestic animals.
Somewhat fittingly, considering its location, this division was known as the Tiger Division.
These candid pictures give us a glimpse of what life was like for soldiers in the Ranam area ? especially in winter. Trudging through the snow, setting up artillery and cleaning and caring for their mounts in the frigid cold were probably tasks they performed far more often than the young soldiers would have liked.
[Japanese colonialism] [Photos]
Worrying indicators In Japan – and elsewhere – about Democracy
By Brad Glosserman
Brad Glosserman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a visiting professor at Tama University’s Center for Rule Making Strategies and a senior adviser at Pacific Forum CSIS.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo rang in the new year by repeating his vow to reinvigorate the national debate about constitutional revision. Constitutional reform is a distant possibility – forging consensus on a draft will be difficult and procedures to change the national charter will take considerable time – but there is anxiety nevertheless, a fear that reflects a belief that a new constitution will alter Japanese politics and policies in disturbing, if not dangerous, ways.
Many observers (me among them) are baffled by this concern. It betrays a disturbing lack of faith in Japan’s commitment to democracy and its commitment to restraint in the use of force as an instrument of state power. Virtually all evidence suggests that those fears are ungrounded. And yet, events around the world provide ample proof that certainties must be questioned; despite Japan’s impressive postwar record, nothing can be taken for granted. It, like other democracies, must continue to nurture its democratic instincts and ideals.
Anxiety about Japanese constitutional reform stems from an imperial, militarist past that dragged the country into war and ruin.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japanese remilitarisation]
Why Did Japan Keep Assisting NEC?
BY Sek Sophal
Sek Sophal (email@example.com) is a researcher at the Democracy Promotion Center, the Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies, Beppu, Japan. He is also a freelance columnist at the Bangkok Post in Thailand.
After a series of crackdowns by the Cambodian government on independent media, civil society organizations, and a main opposition party in late 2017, Western countries swiftly responded by imposing visa restrictions on Cambodia’s high-ranking officials and terminating development aid. However, Japan, as a treaty ally of the US and a democratic country sharing the values of freedom and human rights, has neither terminated its Official Development Aid (ODA) to Cambodia, nor cut its technical and financial assistance for the National Committee for Election (NEC).
Japanese Prime Minister rejects further action on comfort women agreement
Posted on : Jan.13,2018 14:57 KST Modified on : Jan.13,2018 14:57 KST
Japan will “never accept South Korea’s unilateral demands for further measures,” says Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks to meet with reporters at his Tokyo residence on Jan. 12.
The Japanese administration under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that it will never accept the South Korean government’s follow-up measures to the two countries’ comfort women agreement. During a meeting with reporters at his residence on Jan. 12, Abe said that “the comfort women agreement was a promise between two governments, and keeping such a promise is an international and universal principle,” the Japanese press reported. Abe was also quoted as saying that Japan would “never accept South Korea’s unilateral demands for further measures.”
[Abe] Comfort women]
Abe to skip PyeongChang Olympics: report
Posted : 2018-01-11 09:57
Updated : 2018-01-11 19:17
By Oh Young-jin
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided not to attend the opening ceremony of the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Olympics, a Japanese newspaper reported Thursday.
Ultra-conservative Sankei newspaper quoted multiple government sources to report that the decision was an expression of Abe's dissatisfaction with President Moon Jae-in's move to upend the two countries' agreement on the issue of comfort women, Korean women forced to serve at Japanese army brothels during World War II.
South Korea not to seek renegotiation on sex slavery deal with Japan
Posted : 2018-01-09 14:35
Updated : 2018-01-09 14:36
South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha vows before a press conference held at the ministry office in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Tuesday. / Yonhap
South Korea said Tuesday it will not seek renegotiation on a controversial 2015 deal it reached with Japan to settle long-running feud over former comfort women forced into sexual servitude for Japanese troops during World War II.
The Seoul government said that it will also set aside its own money to help the victims heal their wounds and recover their dignity, instead of using the fund that Japan contributed to under the agreement and will discuss with Tokyo on how to spend it going forward.
Return to top of page[.....] Return to Asian Geopolitics indexpage