Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another Way of Seeing the Japanese Tragedy

  Another columnist in the Catholic Times returns to the subject of the recent Japanese tragedy: the earthquake, the tsunami and, making matters worse, the nuclear radiation--all adding to the great  suffering of the Japanese people.  She reflects on the her own life with gratitude but is it possible, she asks, to feel at peace when so many others are suffering?

She mentions that the Japanese ambassador, who attended the Korea Hope Concert, thanked the Koreans in flawless Korean for their help. It was not difficult to understand  why the entertainers who participated in the concert wanted to raise money, since Japan has been very receptive to the Korean world of entertainment. It was not so easy to understand the help that came from the 'comfort women, who for years demonstrated before the Japanese Embassy and saw many of their members  die  without  receiving recognition from the Japanese government. This brought tears to the eyes of many.

The columnist mentions that the Koreans, known to be a warm and compassionate people who in their 5,000 year history have been invaded hundreds of times, have not once invaded another country. That should be sufficient proof of their outstanding  character.  In contrast, the Japanese could be described as cold-headed or, more accurately, persons of reason. We can congratulate them on their calmness and order during this tragedy. They have been educated from an early age to be concerned for others and not to inflict harm on others.

These are wonderful attributes, she goes on to say, but is curious to know why Japan is not  known as a country  concerned with the needs of other countries. The Tokdo island (now occupied by the Koreans but claimed  by the Japanese) is still an unresolved controversy. And why, without a word of explanation or warning, did they release radioactive contamination into the ocean? Nonetheless, during the disaster Korea has continued to help.

Japan has many reasons to be thankful to Korea. The culture and art of the Paik-chei kingdom flowed into Japan and continued even later at the time of the  invasion of Korea by the Japanese in 1592. And they still refuse to correct the mistakes in their history books by giving a correct understanding of history to future generations of Japanese.

She recalled that Pope John Paul asked for forgiveness from the world for faults of the Church during its long history. The columnist wishes, as she continues to give to the suffering people of Japan, that the Japanese would reflect on their history--in the manner of John Paul--and ask for forgiveness from the countries she has harmed with invasion and pillage, and  be 'born again' with a good, friendly policy toward her neighbors.

A history of suffering at the hands of another is very difficult to forget; we know memories tend to linger within a culture and in the hearts of those who have been subjugated. It  should be a lesson to keep before our eyes even when we continue to do all that is necessary to show our love for those in pain, despite the pain they have caused others.