Thursday, September 26, 2019

Korea/Japan Struggle to Live Together As Neighbors

A professor of political science gives the readers ot the Peace Weekly some ideas of the problems Korea is having with Japan. What is a rational response to the economic retaliation by the Japanese government? This is expressed in various ways depending on the viewpoint of the conservatives and progressives and the political intimacy with Japan. 

Korea's countermeasures vary depending on the political and social climate. At times with retaliatory or appeasement policies in light of the long-term relationship with Japan.  All the political parties emphasize the so-called 'diplomatic' solution, through a kind of political compromise rather than endless confrontation.

What is the "diplomatic solution" that  politicians of all stripes, and scholars desire? How is the Korean government attempting diplomatic solutions when the Japanese regime is refusing diplomatic dialogue? In the current Korea-Japan relationship, there is no reason for a passive, humiliating relationship hoping for a diplomatic solutions.

In order for a true diplomatic solution, both regimes must simultaneously express their positions clearly and at the same time concede what can be conceded and compromise. However, if diplomatic means are not used as a means to a solution the shortsighted approach to ending the current conflict will produce other serious problems. We have to find a cool-headed diplomatic solution.

First, multilateral diplomacy must be planned to publicize and support Korea's position to the United Nations and other international organizations. It is necessary to find and share common goals with friends who can actively inform and sympathize with the international community about Japan's tendency to glorify its colonial rule and overlook their mistakes unlike Germany. The professor looks forward to the keynote address of President Moon Jae-in to the 74th UN General Assembly.

Efforts should  be made in diplomacy outside of Japan. Japan should make known unbiasedly the harm down to Northeast Asia's security and environment. Fukushima's release of radioactive pollutants should be made known, and Korea should be in the vanguard of democratic forces actively responding to the delusions of the rightwing Japanese government to revive colonial imperialist remnants in the 21st century: allowing the use of of the rising sun flag for the Tokyo Olympics. (This was a symbol of Japan's imperialist past and reminds the Asian countries of the pain of colonial rule. Similar to the swastika in Nazl Germany).

Korea should stand in solidarity with the democratic forces of the Asian countries who actively accept and align with the common sustainable development goals and norms common in the international community.

True diplomatic solutions are not simply achieved with one-dimensional restoration of diplomatic channels. We must summon democratic civil society at home and abroad and solidify the democratic civil society in Japan. Abe's most feared political group is probably the politicization of anti-Abe civil society in Japan. Therefore, it is important to restore a social climate which allows Japan to brake the right-wing way of thinking that will allow the open communication between Korean and Japanese civil society.

These fights are likely to continue in the short term, until the end of Abe's regime, or in the long run until a true sense of democracy finds a place in Japanese civil society and politics. On the part of Korea first of all, the social consensus of the Korean people must be achieved,  unnecessary internal conflicts settled, and Korean society united in the way we see the  Korea-Japan issue.

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