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Every day except Sundays, holidays and typhoon days, Okinawans confront the US military at Henoko, site of a planned new base
Douglas Lummis and Higa Tami
March 29, 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 8 | Number 3
Every day except for Sundays, holidays and typhoon days hundreds of huge dump trucks enter the US Marine Corps’ Camp Schwab at Henoko, in northern Okinawa, carrying landfill – dirt, sand, stones – and dump it into the sea offshore from the base. Eventually, they hope, they will be able to dump enough to support an airstrip on top of the pile, and transform Schwab from a camp into a superbase. Every day except for Sundays, holidays and typhoon days, Okinawans and their supporters from Japan and abroad carry out a sit-in at the gate aimed at preventing, or at least slowing, the entry of these trucks. This sit-in has continued now for more than 1700 days – possibly qualifying for the Guinness Book, if anyone would take the trouble to make the application.
[Okinawa] [Bases] [Protest]
Japan Cancels Plans for New Embassy in Korea
By Lee Dong-hwi
April 10, 2019 11:43
The Japanese government has scrapped plans it has been pursuing since 2013 to build a new embassy in Korea.
Tokyo wanted to replace an old building dating from 1976 in Jongno, Seoul that has already been demolished with a new six-story structure.
But the Jongno District Office last month canceled the building permit it issued to the embassy in 2015. A district official said, "The Japanese Embassy agreed to the cancellation in a meeting in late February, saying it did not get the green light from its government."
By law, construction must start within a year of the building permit being issued, but delays are accepted if a valid reason is given. The district office sent several letters to the Japanese Embassy last year reminding it to start construction or risk cancellation of the permit, and asked it to give reasons for the delay. But there was no response until the embassy gave up on the plans.
The site of the Japanese Embassy in Jongno, Seoul lies empty on April 5, 2019.
The Japanese government owns the 2,382 sq.m plot and can seek another building permit, but that will take at least another year, and until then the site remains empty. In the meantime the embassy has moved into an office high-riser nearby.
The cancellation reflects the dire state of bilateral relations, and a row over a statue honoring wartime sex slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army in front of the old embassy remains unresolved.
Asked for a comment, the Japanese Foreign Ministry only said, "We will review and adjust our plans for the new embassy considering various circumstances."
More Forced Labor Victims to Sue Japanese Firms
April 09, 2019 12:28
Some 537 Korean victims have joined a class-action suit against Japanese companies that forced them to labor for them in World War II, an advocacy group in Daegu said Monday.
The group, which also supports victims of wartime sexual slavery, said it will file the suit in Gwangju at the end of this month.
A study by the Prime Minister's Office has tallied the number of forced labor victims at around 140,000, which means more lawsuits can be expected.
The Japanese government is furious that Korean courts have recognized the claims for victims in a couple of cases and authorized the seizure of Japanese companies' assets here.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday once again called for the Korean government to take proper action when he was visited by outgoing Korean Ambassador Lee Su-hoon. Tokyo insists all compensation claims were settled by a lump sum payment in 1965.
Tokyo has also threatened retaliatory measures like punitive tariffs on Korean exports should the former forced laborers go ahead and sell the companies' assets. Seoul has not responded to Tokyo's calls for talks saying it respects the courts' decisions.
"We are preparing to deal with all possible measures taken by Japan," a Foreign Ministry official said.
The problem looks increasingly intractable since Abe needs to shore up his rightwing support base and Japan seems incapable of coming to terms with its war crimes, while Korean anger has become highly ritualized.
Lee Won-duk at Kookmin University said, "It appears as if the government is ignoring the problem, but it will become increasingly difficult to look the other way once the scale of the lawsuits grows and Japan takes concrete retaliatory steps."
Lee warned the case may even be taken to the International Court of Justice. "We are not in a disadvantageous position," he added. "We could gain valuable time by taking the case to the ICJ and seek to normalize ties with Japan once the political climate changes."
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced Labour] [ICJ]
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Contested Pilgrimage: Shikoku Henro and Dark Tourism
March 11, 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 6 | Number 1
The origins of Japanese Buddhism can be traced back to the early sixth century, when the king of Paekche, occupying the southwestern tip of the Korean peninsula, sent a small bronze statue and Buddhist texts as part of a diplomatic mission to the Japanese court. This cultural exchange marked the beginning of a leading religion that would continue to develop over the following centuries in Japan. Approximately fourteen centuries later in 2013, Shikoku Henro, a famous pilgrimage circuit that visits eighty-eight Buddhist temples around the fourth largest island of Japan, became a site of national controversy when a racist organization posted signs along the route that read, “Let us protect our precious pilgrimage route from the hands of chosenjin (Koreans).” A site with cultural and religious bonds, forged in a historic diplomatic exchange between the two countries, has instead become celebrated as a “traditional” heritage site—one structured around notions of chauvinism and cultural exclusion. Using the controversy at this location in 2013 as the starting point, my paper examines the ways in which the Shikoku pilgrimage route was presented to the public, and the ensuing claims on the emotional landscape of this site by local, national and international bodies. More than a simple story of Japanese national pride, the dark history of Shikoku Henro reveals complicated circumstances that culminated in the 2013 controversy involving a Korean pilgrim and her journey.
[Buddhism] [Korea Japan] [Racism]
Introduction [to series on Dark Tourism]
March 11, 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 6 | Number 1
I. Why study “dark tourism”?
A sidebar controversy to the intense debate of 2015 on how Japan’s leaders would mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II sparked my interest in the phenomenon of “dark tourism,” defined in brief as touristic interest in sites associated with death, disaster and atrocity. The practice of dark tourism, with focus mainly on the creation of dark tourist sites and the messages they convey (or fail to convey), is the concern of the three papers to follow.
A Marxist Sherlock Holmes: Ito Ken and the Proletarian Detective in 1920s Shanghai
March 11, 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 6 | Number 6
Ito Ken (1895-1945), a proletarian writer, stated in 1930 that his collection of short stories Shanhai Yawa (Shanghai Night Stories) was intended to be a “detective and proletarian like popular novel.” But how can a proletarian writer with a Marxist worldview change an a-political genre such as the detective story into a weapon of proletarian literature? Could a Marxist detective reveal the crimes of capital? Examining Ito’s journalistic articles and fiction within the context of mass media and detective fiction, I aim to show how Ito Ken tried to rework the detective genre into a form of proletarian literature.
Keywords: Ito Ken (1895-1945), proletarian literature, Shanghai, detective fiction, Edogawa Ranpo, Hirabayashi Hatsunosuke
When I published Arishima Takeo no geijutsu to shogai [The Art and Life of Arishima Takeo] in Taisho 15  a change in my life and thinking came about. Therefore, I’m submerged in research on history and science. I wrote mainly detective novels and proletarian popular novels. In Showa 2 , to cleanse my life and love, I went to Shanghai. Here I have met various Marxists and bohemians from around the world. […] I went to China again. This time finally, I captured the ideology. In that time, I tried to write a detective and proletarian like popular novel [tantei shosetsu to puroretaria-teki tsuzoku shosetsu]. The setting is mainly between Shanghai and every country in the world. Shanghai Yawa [Shanghai Night Stories] published by Heibonsha in Showa 4  is the [result] of this attempt.1
[Marxism] [Literature] [Detective fiction]
A Short History of Sushi
The Japanese dish of humble origins that conquered the world.
Alexander Lee | Published in History Today Volume 69 Issue 3 March 2019
Sushi.On the morning of 5 January 2019, gasps of amazement rippled through Tokyo’s cavernous fish market. In the first auction of the new year, Kiyoshi Kimura – the portly owner of a well-known chain of sushi restaurants – had paid a record ¥333.6 million (£2.5 million) for a 278kg bluefin tuna. Even he thought the price was exorbitant. A bluefin tuna that size would have normally cost him around ¥2.7 million (£18,700). At New Year, that could rise to around ¥40 million (£279,000). Back in 2013, he’d paid no less than ¥155.4 million (£1.09 million) for a 222kg specimen: a lot, to be sure. But still a lot less than what he’d just paid.
The silent majorities of Japan and South Korea grow tired of official squabbles
5 March 2019
Author: Yoshihide Soeya, Keio University
Many observers argue that Japan–South Korea relations are at their lowest point since diplomatic normalisation in 1965. The relationship appears marred by exchanges of emotional language, as both Tokyo and Seoul react to the statements and actions of the other with their own sense of justice and remain ignorant of or indifferent to the other side’s perspective. But while this may be the case at the official level, the views of the silent majority — ordinary Japanese and Koreans — suggest otherwise.
[Japan SK] [Japanese colonialism] [Public opinion]
Forced Labor Victims Demand Seizure of Mitsubishi Assets
By Kim Eun-jeong
March 08, 2019 12:55
Victims of forced labor during World War II have asked a court to seize the assets of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Korea, which failed to obey a Supreme Court ruling in November to compensate Korean victims.
According to victims' representatives, Yang Geum-deuk and three other victims of forced labor have asked a court to seize two trademarks and six patents in Korea held by Mitsubishi.
If it authorizes the seizure, the Japanese company will not be allowed to sell the patented rights without consent from the victims.
Another Korean court in January authorized the seizure of assets held in Korea by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, which had also failed to pay between W100 million and W150 million each to a group of victims (US$1=W1,129).
Tokyo is furious at the move and insists that all compensation claims were settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic relations in return for a lump sum payment, but the Supreme Court here last year ruled that the treaty cannot override individual victims' claims.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
Lack of progress at Trump-Kim summit will have mixed impact on China, South Korea and Japan
by Tomoyuki Tachikawa
Mar 1, 2019
HANOI - The fruitless U.S.-North Korea summit will have a mixed impact on China, South Korea and Japan, each of which has different strategic interests at stake.
The two-day summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to yield any written agreement, sparking concern that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will not be realized in the near future.
Foreign affairs experts say that China is not altogether displeased in the outcome, since it is keen to continue playing a pivotal role in East Asia, and that South Korea is disappointed because it will likely face difficulties in deepening economic cooperation with the North amid tight international sanctions on its neighbor.
Japan remains threatened by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles without being able to find an opening for breaking the deadlock in bilateral relations, they added.
In early 2018, Kim suddenly started pledging to attain “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and putting more emphasis on revitalizing the economy than on bolstering the armed forces.
Dogged by the sanctions that have dragged down its economy, North Korea has made diplomatic overtures to China, South Korea and the United States while discontinuing missile and nuclear tests.
[Hanoi summit] [Abortion] [Japan]
Abe's Military Base Plan for Okinawa Sinking in Mayonnaise: Implications for the U.S. Court and IUCN
March 1, 2019
Volume 17 | Issue 5 | Number 1
Abe Government's Reluctant Admission
After a long silence, the Abe government has finally admitted that the construction of a U.S. military base at Henoko-Oura Bay in Okinawa requires significant changes to the original land reclamation plan (see Asahi Shimbun). Parts of the seafloor of the construction site have proven to be extremely fragile, having the consistency of mayonnaise. To solidify the seafloor sufficiently to support a functional airport, a "sand compaction pile method" needs to be carried out (see this video for sand compaction pile method). Casing piles will be driven into the seafloor as deep as 60 meters (or 90 meters below the water surface), and the piles, which are hollow, will be filled from the top with sand and other compacting materials. Then the piles are raised or removed slowly leaving the compacting materials in the form of a pillar, thus solidifying the seafloor. This procedure is to be repeated 76,000 times, implanting 76,000 compacting pillars in the seafloor (see Ryukyu Shimpo).
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EDITORIAL: Henoko project clearly doomed; time to open talks with U.S.
February 23, 2019 at 14:00 JST
The government’s plan to relocate a U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture is clearly in tatters, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s insistence that it is the “only solution.”
Despite fierce local opposition, the Abe administration has been forging ahead with the controversial plan to build a new base in the Henoko district of the Okinawan city of Nago to replace the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which sits in the middle of the crowded city of Ginowan within the prefecture.
[Okinawa] [Bases] [US Japan alliance]
Japan Threatens Economic Retaliation Against Korea
By Lee Ha-won, Choi Seung-hyun
February 18, 2019 11:17
The Japanese government is considering economic retaliation against Korea if it seizes the Korean assets of Nippon Steel to compensate Korean forced labor victims.
The steps could include halting exports of key materials needed to manufacture semiconductors and defense products. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun daily on Saturday reported calls by Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party to limit exports of defense-related materials to Korea.
Some LDP lawmakers are even calling for the scrapping of a visa-waiver with Korea and limiting work visas for Korean nationals, or suggesting punitive tariffs similar to those slammed by U.S. President Donald Trump on China.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (right) meets with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday. /Yonhap
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono met in Munich on Friday to resolve the diplomatic impasse but were unable to agree on the main sticking points. A Foreign Ministry official here said, "We continue to monitor the situation and plan to minimize conflict with a cool-headed approach."
A Korean court recently ordered the seizure of Nippon Steel assets in Korea after the Japanese firm' headquarters failed to compensate Korean forced labor victims under a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Japan contends that all compensation claims for wartime atrocities were settled under a 1965 lump sum payment, but courts here have held that a treaty between states cannot overrule individual claims.
[Japan SK] [Forced labour] [Friction]
Japanese Document Sheds New Light on Korean Queen's Murder
January 12, 2005 19:23
Empress Myeongseong faces her death at the hands of Japanese thugs with dignity in a scene from the KBS drama "Epress Myeongseong."
Newly-released Japanese material provides important information about the notorious 1895 murder of Empress Myeongseong -- also known as Queen Min -- by Japanese thugs. The material reveals that although it is commonly believed that the empress was killed in her bedroom, she was actually dragged outdoors and publicly hacked to death with a sword.
On Wednesday, Seoul National University history professor Lee Tae-jin released a secret document on the murder of Empress Myeongseong that he discovered at the Record Office of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The five-page report, written by the Japanese consul in Seoul at the time, was composed after investigation at the crime scene and sent back to Japan on Jan. 4, 1896, no more than three months after the incident. Analysts say the report is therefore highly credible.
It says Japanese thugs broke into the Gyeongbok Palace through the Geoncheong-gung north of the Hyangwon-jeong pavilion, where the king and queen slept. There report also indicates the place where the empress's body was temporarily displayed and where it was later burned. The route taken by the killers is shown on a detailed map of the Gyeongbok Palace, with the Japanese entering through Gwanghwamun -- the front gate of the palace -- passing to the left of Gyeonghoe-ru pavilion and entering the Geoncheong-gung.
[Japanese colonialism] [Queen Min]
Let’s Change the Way We Relate To the Korean Peninsula
Start: March 02, 2019• 1:30 PM
With the 100th anniversary of the start of the Korean independence movement known as the “March 1st Movement” this year, a famous writer and scholar of literature in Japan, who is a Zainichi (resident) Korean named Suh Kyung Sik (???), will give a lecture on the relationship between Japanese and Koreans from a broad perspective, touching on the history of the colonialism of the Empire of Japan, the Korean War, and other historical issues. After the lecture there will be a candlelight demo. Please join us to learn more about Korea and Koreans, and to show your solidarity with those seeking the end of the Korean War and peace in Northeast Asia.
[Zainichi] [Peace effort]
Can Abe get Japan back on the North Korea bus?
6 February 2019
Author: Yoshihide Soeya, Keio University
In the current flurry of summitry involving North Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s generally hardline approach makes Japan the odd man out. But that trend is beginning to change.
At the UN General Assembly in September 2017, Abe outlined his hardline approach to North Korea in no uncertain terms: ‘Again and again, attempts to resolve issues through dialogue have all come to naught … What is needed … is not dialogue, but pressure’. A year later at the 2018 assembly, the same Abe said that he is now ‘ready to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea’ and ‘meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong-un’.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in shake hands as they attend the ASEM leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, 19 October 2018 (Reuters/Francois Lenoir).
This striking shift in attitude was seemingly caused by the three summits that took place in the first half of 2018: between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, Moon and Abe in May, and Kim and US President Donald Trump in June.
[Japan NK] [Abe Shinzo] [Sidelined]
WBW News: The Inspiration of Okinawa
Report Back from Protests at U.S. Military Base in Okinawa, Japan
By Joe Essertier, Chapter Coordinator, Japan for a World BEYOND War
What a contrast: the violence of the U.S. and Japan alongside the people’s struggle for peace and justice. The solidarity and cooperation. The inspiring activists. Non-violent, direct action—I have not seen it in action with my own eyes, not on TV or in a documentary, on this level before. I sense that the Uchina people (Uchina is the indigenous name for “Okinawa”) have won the respect of the police. It is thanks to them that the police don’t carry any weapons. Not a club or a gun in sight. Lots of angry words you hear spoken, on both sides. But almost no physical violence, besides the violence of stolen land and the violence against the animals in the sea. None of the Japanese police smile. Not one. The only people smiling are the American troops standing and watching, sometimes pointing at us and laughing.
The people of Okinawa never agreed to the development of foreign military bases on their land, yet it has been occupied by the U.S. military since WWII.
Okinawa and the US Military Link to PFAS Toxins
February 7, 2019
The Japanese island hosting U.S. military bases and training sites is a forerunner in exposing the contamination, writes Pat Elder.
Fire-Fighting Exercises Spread ‘Forever Chemicals’
By Pat Elder
World BEYOND War
Contaminants are being detected in water samplings in communities adjacent to U.S. military installations around the world. One forerunning example—publicized more than five years ago—is the Japanese island of Okinawa, which hosts 32 U.S. bases and 48 training sites.
In 2013, The Japan Times published an exposé about the high concentrations of toxins generically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the drinking water in Okinawa communities adjacent to Kadena Air Base and the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
[Okinawa] [USFJ] [Pollution]
Tokyo Cancels Frigate's Port Call in Busan
By Yang Seung-sik
February 07, 2019 13:20
Tokyo has cancelled a plan to send the navy frigate Izumo to a multinational maritime drill in Busan in April and May after a recent radar spat with Korea over Japanese surveillance aircrafts' flybys.
"It's important to act in a way that ensures that the relations between the two countries moves in a constructive way," a Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman said. "After a review, Japan has concluded that it's most appropriate to respond to the situation this way."
On Jan. 27, the Korean Navy indefinitely postponed a visit to a Japanese naval base scheduled for this month.
[Japan SK] [Japanese remilitarisation] [Izumo]
[Interview] “Abe should apologize like a leader should”
Posted on : Jan.31,2019 17:20 KST Modified on : Jan.31,2019 17:20 KST
Former US Congressman Mike Honda vows to continue fighting on comfort women issue
Honda sits next to the late Kim Bok-dong, comfort woman survivor and peace activist who passed away on Jan. 28, during a Wednesday Demonstration in Seoul in October 2017. (Hankyoreh archives)
“Kim Bok-dong was a strong woman with a strong spirit, which is why I always went to pay my respects whenever I was in South Korea,”
This was how how former US Congressman Mike Honda, 77, responded to the news that former comfort woman and peace activist Kim Bok-dong had passed away Jan. 28. In 2007, Honda led the House of Representatives resolution for rectifying the comfort women issue. During his tenure in the House of Representatives (from 2001 to 2017), Honda, who is of Japanese ancestry, fought tirelessly with the Japanese government on the comfort women issue, demanding a genuine apology. Honda, who is currently in Ethiopia, and despite the fact that it was almost midnight in local time when he was contacted on Jan. 29, agreed to a phone interview, describing the news as “important.” He directly referred to Kim Bok-dong as “Grandmother Kim Bok-dong” in Korean.
The former congressman said, “I am very sad that Grandmother Kim passed away without receiving an apology from the Japanese government,” adding, “Now, there are only 23 [victims] left in South Korea. Now, more than ever, is the time to keep fighting for an apology from the Japanese government.”
The former congressman has also been a frequent participant in the weekly Wednesday Demonstrations, held in Seoul in front of the Japanese Embassy. Kim was present at the demonstrations in October 2017, but when Honda visited in November she was hospitalized.
“When I went to see her at the hospital, she thanked me for coming, and as we parted, asked that I teach [Japanese Prime Minister] Abe a lesson,” Honda said. “It was a request to receive an apology from him, no matter what.”
”Grandmother Kim may have passed away, but she is watching over us, expecting us to keep fighting without giving up,” he added.
[Abe Shinzo] [Comfort women]
[Obituary] A lifetime of struggling for peace and justice
Posted on : Jan.30,2019 16:13 KST Modified on : Jan.30,2019 16:13 KST
Comfort woman survivor Kim Bok-dong leaves behind a tragic but inspiring legacy
Former comfort woman turned peace activist Kim Bok-dong
Kim Bok-dong was born in 1926 in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province. After completing the fourth grade of elementary school, she helped out with household chores until the age of 15. Her mother had told her stay close to home because “the times were strange.”
One day in 1941 – she can’t remember if it was the spring or the fall – Japanese people in yellow uniforms without rank badges came to her house, accompanied by her village leader and another official. Kim was told she needed to work for three years at a factory making army uniforms – and if she didn’t go, her family would be kicked out of their house and their property seized.
Figuring that it wouldn’t kill her to work at a factory, Kim told her mother she would go. At the age of 15, she was taken to Taiwan and then on to a Japanese military unit based in China’s Guangdong Province. How different her life would have been if she hadn’t gone with the Japanese back in 1941!
At 10:41 pm on Jan. 28, Kim Bok-dong – former comfort woman (sex slave) for the Japanese imperial army and later a peace activist – closed her eyes for the last time, without ever receiving an apology from the Japanese government. She was 93 years old.
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U.S. to Deploy New Radar in Japan
By Lee Ha-won
January 29, 2019 13:33
The U.S. is seeking to deploy its most state-of-the-art radar in Japan to step up defenses against missile attacks from North Korea, Russia, and China, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday.
Washington wants to start formal talks with the Abe administration soon to deploy the "Homeland Defense Radar," in Japan, it quoted sources as saying.
Currently the U.S. maintains only a ground-based missile defense system in Alaska and California to defend its mainland. But it is getting more difficult to detect signs of hostile overseas launches after China developed new intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be fired from mobile launchers.
In the 2019 Missile Defense Review a few weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump stressed the importance of strengthening America’s missile defenses and cited the threat of ICBMs from North Korea, China and Russia.
The radar the U.S. wants to deploy in Japan would be capable of detecting ICBMs flying towards the U.S. mainland, Hawaii or Guam. The information would then be shared with the Japanese military.
The Washington-Tokyo alliance is getting stronger even as rifts appear in Washington’s alliance with Seoul over cost-sharing and sanctions against North Korea.
The Abe administration decided early this month to buy Mageshima, an uninhabited island in Kagoshima Prefecture, for 14 billion yen for U.S. aircraft carriers to conduct drills there.
Until recently, U.S. aircraft carried out most landing and take-off drills on the Ogasawara Islands in the South Pacific, but that is considered too far away.
[China Confrontation] [Radar] [Japan]
Abe Drops S.Korea from Annual Policy Speech
By Lee Ha-won
January 29, 2019 13:30
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe omitted a passage on relations with South Korea from his annual policy speech at the opening of the Diet on Monday.
The two countries are at daggers drawn in a spat over coat-trailing flybys of Japanese spy planes over South Korean warships. Another problem is a recent ruling by the Supreme Court here ordering a Japanese steelmaker to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in the Diet in Tokyo on Monday. /AFP-Yonhap
Abe elaborated on Tokyo's ties with the U.S., China, Russia, North Korea, as well as the Middle East and Africa, but omitted the customary reference to South Korea as the country's "most important neighbor."
[Japan SK] [Abe Shinzo]
Japan’s recent actions explained by its need for a new enemy
Posted on : Jan.28,2019 18:36 KST Modified on : Jan.28,2019 18:36 KST
The Abe administration relies on fear of neighboring countries to consolidate power
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
On Sept. 18, 1931, Seishiro Itagaki and Kanji Ishiwara, officers in Japan’s Kwantung Army, staged an explosion at a section of the Manchurian Railroad running through Liutiao, near the Chinese city of Mukden (today Shenyang, Liaoning Province). Next, the officers alleged that the explosion had been the act of Chinese troops under Zhang Xueliang and initiated military operations that resulted in the conquest of Manchuria. The Great Depression had thrown Japan into turmoil, and Japan sought to escape that crisis by invading other countries. Subsequently, all of East Asia was engulfed in the flames of war.
On Dec. 20, 2018, a Japanese naval patrol plane buzzed South Korean destroyer ROKS Gwanggaeto the Great while it was performing rescue operations for a North Korean fishing ship in distress. After this threatening flyby, Japan launched an international public relations war, posting a video criticizing South Korea for aiming its fire control radar at the patrol plane. Then on Jan. 18, 22 and 23, Japanese patrol planes made more threatening flybys near South Korean naval vessels.
Japan’s actions have been brazen.
[Japan SK] [Friction]
Japan postpones arrival of JS Izumo destroyer at Busan for ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting
Posted on : Jan.28,2019 18:26 KST Modified on : Jan.28,2019 18:26 KST
Multilateral naval exercises still schedule for April
The Japanese helicopter carrier JS Izumo
The Japanese government is postponing the scheduled Port of Busan arrival of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter carrier JS Izumo over its conflict with South Korea regarding low-altitude flybys and the use of radar, Japanese news outlets reported on Jan. 27.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense had initially planned to have a convoy including the Izumo at Busan for this spring’s ADMM-Plus ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting in South Korea. Multilateral naval exercises have also been scheduled to take place this April in the waters around South Korea.
[Japan SK] [Friction] [Seapower] [Izumo]
Japanese PM pushes for summit with North Korean leader to break 'mutual distrust'
Posted : 2019-01-28 14:58
Updated : 2019-01-28 14:58
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a policy speech at the start of the extraordinary Diet session in Tokyo on January 28, 2019. AFP
Japan's prime minister vowed Monday to "break the shell of mutual distrust" with North Korea by meeting leader Kim Jong Un face-to-face and restoring diplomatic relations between the two historic foes.
In a major policy speech to mark the opening of parliament, Shinzo Abe also vowed to push Sino-Japan ties "to a new stage" and pledged a record budget to improve crumbling infrastructure in the world's third-biggest economy.
"I will act resolutely, never failing to seize every opportunity to break the shell of mutual distrust, and I myself will directly face Chairman Kim Jong Un next to resolve North Korea's nuclear and missile issues, as well as the abductions issue," Abe said.
Abe gave no timeframe for a potential meeting with the North Korean leader but the comments came as Kim has ordered preparation for a second summit with US President Donald Trump, likely towards the end of next month.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japan NK]
Military Could Send Chopper to Block Japanese Flybys
By Lee Ha-won, Yang Seung-sik
January 25, 2019 13:53
The military is considering sending a helicopter to respond to any further Japanese spy planes buzzing Korean warships. The chopper would block the flight path of any Japanese patrol plane if it came close to a Korean destroyer, as happened on several occasions in the past few weeks.
The idea was mooted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a briefing of the ruling Minjoo Party on Thursday.
After a meeting of the National Security Council at Cheong Wa Dae the same day, an official said, "We're very concerned about the repeated threateningly close flybys of Japanese patrol aircraft and decided to respond firmly to prevent a recurrence.”
[Japan SK] [Friction]
S. Korean Defense Ministry releases photos of Japanese patrol plane’s threatening flyby
Posted on : Jan.25,2019 16:11 KST Modified on : Jan.25,2019 16:11 KST
Photographic evidence rebukes Japanese claims and signal that South Korea won’t ease pressure
Radar data showing the Japanese patrol aircraft flew at an altitude of 200 feet (60-70m) as it approached the ROKS Dae Jo-yeong.
On Jan. 24, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) released photographs of a radar monitor that depicts the altitude of a Japanese patrol plane during a threatening flyby on Jan. 23 and its distance from the South Korean destroyer ROKS Dae Jo-yeong. Seoul released this evidence immediately after the Japanese Defense Ministry denied that its patrol plane had conducted a threatening flyby.
This appears to be both a rebuttal of Japanese claims and a signal that South Korea won’t ease pressure. Japan responded to the release of the photographs with a rebuttal of its own, but did not provide any specific evidence.
The South Korean Defense Ministry released a total of two photographs of the radio monitor. Figures visible in the photos indicate that the Japanese plane approached within 540m of the Dae Jo-yeong while flying at an altitude of 60-70m.
[Japan SK] [Friction]
Abe seeks to mobilize anti-Korean sentiment among Japanese for political gains
Posted on : Jan.25,2019 16:02 KST Modified on : Jan.25,2019 16:02 KST
S. Korea-Japan dispute appears to continue for long term
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
The fact that Japanese maritime patrol planes have made threatening flybys over South Korean naval vessels on no fewer than three occasions over the past week is unprecedented in South Korea-Japan relations. The two countries have been tied together by the US network of alliances in East Asia, and there’s little precedent of a military disagreement between them blowing up so publicly since they concluded their basic treaty in 1965. As the dispute expands to include targeting radars and threatening flybys, observers are wondering about what is motivating the Japanese government and the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
One of Abe’s apparent goals is to mobilize frustration with South Korea inside Japan after a ruling about compensation for forced laborers by South Korea’s Supreme Court, while also pressuring the South Korean government into taking action. After South Korean victims of forced labor took steps to seize assets that Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal holds in South Korea, the Japanese government made a request on Jan. 9 for intergovernmental deliberations with South Korea, as stipulated in the dispute resolution procedures of a South Korea-Japan claims agreement, and asked the South Korean government to reply by Jan. 30.
[Abe Shinzo] [Japan SK] [Friction] [Anti-Korean]
Korea Slams 'Provocative' Japanese Flyby
By Yang Seung-sik
January 24, 2019 10:12
The Defense Ministry on Wednesday condemned as "an explicit provocation" a Japanese spy plane flying too close to a 4,500-ton Korean Navy destroyer near the submerged rocks of Ieo in Korea's territorial line in the East China Sea.
"Around 2:03 p.m. today, a Japanese patrol plane performed a threatening maneuver over the Daejoyoung by flying only about 540 m away and at an altitude of just 60-70 m in waters near Ieo, despite being capable of clearly identifying the warship," Suh Wook of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters.
[Japan SK] [Friction]
Arirang TV airs documentary on North Korea’s former comfort women
Posted on : Jan.24,2019 15:57 KST Modified on : Jan.24,2019 15:57 KST
Arirang TV aired a documentary on North Korean victims of sexual slavery, referred to as the “comfort women,” under the Japanese military during colonial occupation, on Jan. 24. Korean-Japanese writer Kim Yeong, who has documented and researched former comfort women in North Korea for the past 18 years, and photographer Ahn Se-hong, who has devoted his work to comfort women issues throughout Asia for the past 20 years, contributed greatly to the documentary. There are currently 219 women who are registered under the North Korean government as former comfort women. (provided by Arirang TV)
Japan backs out of working-level talks with S. Korean on patrol aircraft flyby
Posted on : Jan.22,2019 17:26 KST Modified on : Jan.22,2019 17:26 KST
Tokyo appears to have determined it lacks the evidence to refute Seoul’s position
On Jan. 21, the Japanese Ministry of Defense released files of “fire-control radar detection noise” and “search radar noise” it claimed to have been picked up by the patrol aircraft during its low-altitude flyby near the South Korean Gwanggaeto the Great destroyer.
The Japanese government unilaterally declared a halt on Jan. 21 to discussions with South Korea after previously claiming that the South Korean destroyer Gwanggaeto the Great targeted a Japanese patrol aircraft with signal tracking and illuminating radar (STIR).
With its declaration, Japan appears to have bowed out of the discussions after determining that it did not have the concrete evidence needed to refute South Korea’s consistently maintained position.
Later that evening, the Japanese Ministry of Defense posted a statement on its website titled “A Final Opinion on the South Korean Navy Destroyer’s Targeting of the Self-Defense Forces with Fire-Control Radar.”
“As South Korea has not demonstrated a willingness to objectively and neutrally acknowledge the facts based on the principle of reciprocity, we do not believe that the truth will come to light even if the working-level discussions continue,” the statement read.
“We have determined that we cannot continue these discussions with South Korea,” it continued.
[Japan SK] [Friction]
South Korea condemns Japanese warplane's 'provocative' close-range flight
Posted : 2019-01-23 16:43
Updated : 2019-01-23 16:43
South Korea's military on Wednesday strongly condemned a Japanese warplane's low-altitude flight close to a South Korean warship, calling it a "provocative act."
At 2:03 p.m., the Maritime Self-Defense Force's patrol plane flew close to the Navy ship at an altitude of 60 to 70 meters just 540 meters away near Ieodo, a submerged rock south of Korea's southern island of Jeju, it said.
[Japan SK] [Friction]
South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers to hold talks in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 23
Posted on : Jan.20,2019 16:42 KST Modified on : Jan.20,2019 16:42 KST
Bilateral talks unlikely to produce much in the way of clear outcomes
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (left) and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono meeting during the former’s visit to Japan on Dec. 19, 2017.
Attempts are under way to organize bilateral talks between South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in the Swiss town of Davos on Jan. 23.
The NHK network and other Japanese media reported on Jan. 18 that efforts were under way to organize the bilateral talks while the two foreign ministers are attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting (Davos Forum). Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the talks were “currently being coordinated.” If the meeting does happen, it will be the first foreign minister talks between the two sides since a South Korean Supreme Court decision in late October ordered a Japanese company to pay compensation for forced conscription of Korean workers during the colonial occupation.
Japan lashes out at S. Korea for “attempting to shift responsibility” for forced labor victims
Posted on : Jan.12,2019 16:53 KST Modified on : Jan.12,2019 16:53 KST
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticizes Moon’s New Year’s remarks
The Japanese government criticized South Korea for “attempting to shift responsibility” following President Moon Jae-in’s criticisms of Japan’s approach to the issue of damages for forced labor conscription in his recent New Year’s press conference.
Speaking in his own regular press conference on Jan. 11, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “The  Japan-South Korean Claims Settlement Agreement is binding for all parties involved [in the agreement’s signing], including the judiciary.”
“The moment the South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling [ordering damages to be paid to forced labor mobilization victims] was finalized last year, a state of violation of that agreement was created. Responsibility for correcting that state of violation obviously lies with South Korea,” he continued.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced Labour] [Japan SK]
Japan Protests Against Ruling to Seize Steelmaker's Assets
By Lee Ha-won
January 10, 2019 12:36
The Japanese government on Wednesday protested against a court ruling here to seize the Korean assets of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal at the request of forced labor victims.
Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba summoned Korean Ambassador Lee Su-hoon to lodge a formal protest and demand talks about a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic relations in return for a lump sum compensation.
Korean Ambassador Lee-Su-hoon answers questions from reporters at the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday. /Yonhap
The Daegu District Court on Tuesday authorized the seizure of Nippon Steel's shares in POSCO-Nippon Steel RFH (PNR), a joint venture specializing in recycling by-products from steel making, after the Japanese company failed to pay compensation to the victims ordered by the Supreme Court here last October.
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced Labour]
Weekly Protest for Former Sex Slaves Marks 27th Anniversary
January 10, 2019 09:01
Some 200 people braved subzero temperatures in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday to mark the 27th anniversary of protests for women forced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan.
The protesters along with some surviving victims are still demanding that Japan officially admit responsibility. But they are also calling on the Korean government to put more efforts into resolving the issue of wartime sex slavery through diplomatic channels.
Out of 240 registered victims in Korea, only 25 are still alive. Eight victims died last year alone, but the issue continues to flare up as Tokyo's efforts to settle the matter without admitting full responsibility keep exacerbating the problem.
[Editorial] Controversy over Japanese patrol plane should not undermine S. Korea-Japan relations
Posted on : Jan.7,2019 17:46 KST Modified on : Jan.7,2019 17:46 KST
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a press conference at Ise Grand Shrine in Japan’s Mie Prefecture on Jan. 4. (Yonhap News)
The dispute between South Korea and Japan is being aggravated by a Japanese patrol plane’s close approach to a South Korean naval vessel and by the issue of compensation for Korean victims of forced labor during the Japanese colonial occupation. After South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) posted a video explaining the patrol plane incident, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force issued a rebuttal that may make the dispute escalate into a brawl between Korean and Japanese netizens.
Furthermore, the Japanese government is protesting a request filed by the victims of forced labor for a Japanese company’s South Korean assets to be seized in lieu of compensation and appears to be preparing to take the issue to an international court. This situation can’t be seen as desirable in consideration of the future of South Korea-Japan relations.
[Japan SK] [Liberal]
Defense Ministry release video refuting Japan’s claims regarding patrol plane
Posted on : Jan.5,2019 17:54 KST Modified on : Jan.5,2019 17:54 KST
YouTube video characterizes plane’s approach as “threatening low-altitude flight”
On Jan. 4, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) uploaded a video on YouTube regarding a Japanese patrol plane’s approach to South Korean destroyer Gwanggaeteo the Great during a rescue operation of a North Korean fishing boat, describing the plane’s flyby as a” threatening low-altitude flight.” (MND YouTube page)
On Jan. 4, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) released a video in which a Japanese patrol plane’s approach to South Korean destroyer Gwanggaeto the Great while it was performing a rescue operation is characterized as a “threatening low-altitude flight” and in which Japan is asked to apologize. Seoul has taken issue with the patrol plane’s “ungentlemanly conduct” while rebutting the Japanese government’s argument that Gwanggaeto the Great aimed its fire control radar at the patrol plane.
At 2 pm on Friday, the MND posted a video, 4 minutes and 26 seconds in length, to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGWO4Kdk5j0) titled “The Position of the Republic of Korea Regarding False Claims and the Threatening Low-Altitude Flight by the Japanese Maritime Patrol Plane.”
A tough year ahead for Mr. Abe
By Brad Glosserman
Brad Glosserman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is deputy director of and visiting professor at the Center for Rule-Making Strategies, Tama University, and senior advisor (nonresident) for Pacific Forum. His study on the future of Japan, Peak Japan, will be published by Georgetown University Press this spring.
Abe Shinzo has begun the seventh year of his second stint as prime minister of Japan, and will, if he continues in office, become Japan’s longest-serving postwar prime minister in August, and the longest-serving PM ever in November. Despite an impressive record, governing is not getting easier. Indeed, 2019 may prove to be the most daunting of his tenure. Considerable political skills will help Abe surmount challenges in the year ahead, but two other factors may prove decisive: the lack of a credible replacement (both from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposition) and the belief that his experience is vital at a time of geopolitical churn.
Forced Labor Victims Could Claim Japanese Firm's Korean Assets
January 02, 2019 11:32
When the Supreme Court here last October ordered Nippon Steel to pay W100 million each to four Korean forced labor victims, many predicted that there would be no way to force the company to pay up (US$1=W1,114).
But lawyers for the victims have tracked down Nippon Steel's property in Korea and asked a court to seize it based on the Supreme Court ruling.
Earlier, the Japanese government threatened to seize Korean property in Japan if the Japanese company's property was seized here. Diplomatic friction is therefore expected to continue over the matter.
Nippon Steel's property in Korea includes its share of POSCO-Nippon Steel RHF, a joint-venture recycling business established in 2008. Nippon Steel holds about 2.34 million stocks worth about W11 billion.
Lawyers for the victims visited Nippon Steel headquarters in Tokyo twice last year to ask them to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, but executives refused to see them. A recent meeting between bureau chiefs of the two countries' foreign ministries also failed to narrow the gap.
Nippon Steel also has a 3.32 percent stake or 2.89 million stocks in POSCO, but they take the form of American depositary receipts issued by a U.S. bank and their seizure would require U.S. court approval.
"Nothing can prevent the victims from asking a court to seize Nippon Steel's property in Korea," said Prof. Lee Won-duk of Kookmin University. "But it creates a huge diplomatic burden for the government here because there could be a string of further class action suits by victims."
[Japanese colonialism] [Forced labour]
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