This is an article from Sankei Shinbun, Japanese newspaper, on July 27, 2013. Professor James. E. Auer, the author of the article, showed surprise at S.Koreans completely ignorance on Japan and felt confused about their one-sided historical perceptions in another place. I think I want all S.Kreans to know about true histories between Japan and S.Korea.
Let’s talk about the truth of JP-SK relations
July 26 2013
James.E.Auer, a director of Center for U.S. Japan
Studies and Cooperation, Vanderbilt University
Last month, I visited to Seoul for three days at the invitation of a S.Korean senior politician who is a supporter of President Park Geun Hye. Unfortunately, most of S.Koreans whom I met there viewed Japan in a negative light.
<The comfort women were not exclusively the Korean women>
I asked the S.Koreans that I have met why they obviously changed their opinion about Japan-Korea disputes after the Japanese prime minister Keizo Obuchi and the President Kim Dae-jung (both at that time) issued a joint statement in 1998 saying that both nations agreed on settling the confrontation between the two and moving toward better relations.
Most S.koreans I met claimed that their stance have not changed since 1998. Instead, their current attitude of ant-Japanese are due to Japanese insensitivity toward bilateral history issues including Prime Ministers’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine or Japan’s claim to Takeshima (Dokdo).
I said them that none of the leader of Japan, S.Korea and the US would forgive the practices of prostitution conducted by Japan till 1945 in China
We have no hard numbers, but it might well be that the number of the Korean comfort women, who were sold by their poor peasant parents or applied for employment by other way, was more than that of the comfort women from Japan, China or other countries.
However, it was not a plan to recruit comfort women only from Korea. There seems little doubt that Japan sincerely feels a sense of remorse for the true suffering which this project inflicted on comfort women of all the nationalities during the war.
In those days, prostitution was legal in Japan. The US troops also received sexual services from Japan during the occupation. I don’t mean to suggest that these facts prove what happened was right, but I mean that they show how different values at that time were from the ones of today.
With regard to Japanese government officials’ visit to Yasukuni Shrine, I said them the Japanese leaders have not visited Yasukuni Shrine in order to either honoring some class-A war criminals listed there or praising Japan’s own behavior of apologies toward other countries. More importantly, it seems to be a big contradictions that such a country like China that hates criticism against its own internal affairs from abroad blames Japan for its politicians’ visits to the shrine which is dedicated to the Japanese soldiers who served and died for their country.
<Yasukuni is no different than Arlington>
Now the US president and leaders of other countries include Japan and S.K. visit the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, US, even though there are many tombs of Johnny Rebs who fought for the South that supported slavery. Today most of advanced countries don’t accept slavery, but there is no one who claim to remove the tombs of Johnny Rebs from the National Cemetery because they believed in slavery.
After much talk with the S.Koreans I found that the most difficult problem was concerned with “Takeshima” I said that Japan didn’t seem change its views of the problem due to legal bases favorable to Japan. Meanwhile, I asked, though Japan never be likely to send SDF troops to drive away the S.Korean soldiers from Takeshima now, why they don’t stop worrying about the issue. The only answer that I heard from them was because the SKoreans thought the Japanese govt should agree the opinion that Takeshima belongs to S.Korea absolutely.
There was only one group that didn’t complain about Japan. They were in the base of S.Korean navy. I saw “Cheonan(天安)” which was the S.Korean corvette (a patrol combatant craft) torpedoed by N.Korea before. The officers never talk about politics, instead, talk of the need to collaborate with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the United States Navy to counter vicious and unpredictable behaviors by N.Korea realistically.
<Contribution of JP-Sino War and JP-Russo war to Korea>
What can we do to change S.Korea’s attitude towards Japan for the better? One of my students who has lived in Seoul since his/her birth and worked there for more than 20 years since graduated from Vanderbilt University, said that he/she thought Japan would have to keep taking a patient stance until the Koreans overcome thier inferiority complex. I’m sorry to say that it seems to be right to the point. However I would expect President Park to be able to work out a deal with Prime Minister Abe.
Although the Japanese would never mention this, I believe it deserves consideration for the Koreans that there was a common reason for Japan to win the two wars against China in 1895 and Russia in 1905. Japan wasn’t against Korea at that time, but it was afraid that Korea come to be controlled either by China or Russia.
If China won JP-Sino War, Korea might have become a colony of China, also if Russia defeated Japan, Korea must have been Russian’s. After all Japan’s victories of the two wars leaded Korea to the position of a democracy based on the market economy like today.
(sorry if misinstlation)