Thursday, October 20, 2005


Emotion transcends jurisprudence

The writer, professor Park Cheol-hee, is said that he is an expert on Japan. But the Korean professor could not say that he was a Japanese sympathizer, because if he said so, he would be persecuted by his compatriots.

[VIEWPOINT]What else is on Japan's mind?

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan visited the Yasukuni Shrine again on Monday, his fifth trip there since he came to power. I have sympathy with Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, who said, "I am frustrated." Despite the opposition in Japan and persistent protests from South Korea and China, Mr. Koizumi visited the shrine anyway.
This makes us wonder whether he has any intention of reflecting on Japan's past wrongdoings and whether he has any wish to improve relations with neighboring Asian countries. His visit tarnishes his statement on Aug. 15 in which he apologized for and reflected on Japan's aggression and colonial rule.
The Japanese prime minister's visit to the shrine reminds South Koreans of the glorification of militarism. This is because the Yasukuni Shrine is a place where the name tablets of 14 Class-A World War II war criminals are enshrined.
It is awkward logic to say that he visits the shrine to pay tribute to the unknown soldiers who fought and died for Japan. A distinction cannot be made between the Class-A war criminals and unknown soldiers who are enshrined at the same place. If he wants to visit a shrine for the unknown soldiers, it would be better for him to visit the Chidorigafuchi National Tomb for Dead Soldiers in Tokyo. The term "national tomb" is clearly written there. The tomb is located less than 1 kilometer away from the Yasukuni Shrine.
It is also absurd to say that he visits the shrine because he never wants a war again. No one would believe him even if he pointlessly argued that he is not glorifying the war while paying respects at the shrine where the war criminals who took charge of the war are buried. It is a sophism to say that war criminals cannot be held responsible for their crimes because all Japanese people become gods when they die. If that is the case, this logic makes us ask again why war criminals were punished and why their crimes were investigated for punishment.
Prime Minister Koizumi should not have visited the Yasukuni Shrine. He should not have done so not because South Korea and China opposed his visit but because Japan needs to truly reflect on its past history and show determination to clear itself of the debt. According to a survey by the Kyodo News Agency, more Japanese people oppose his visit than approve of it; that is, 53 percent of respondents opposed while 37.7 percent approved. His visit to the shrine is not a matter to be justified by wrapping it up in bizzare logic.
For Mr. Koizumi's part, as long as he pledged that "he would visit the shrine once a year," it would be a violation of a political promise if he did not visit the shrine. After all, he ended up being bound to the promise he made. To reduce the diplomatic repercussions, he has adjusted the visiting dates every year. This year, September passed and he had few days left for the visit, considering his diplomatic schedule, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit talks in November and the South Korea-Japan summit talks that were scheduled to be held in December.
As a desperate measure, Mr. Koizumi paid a quick visit to the shrine on Monday, the first day of the ritual at the shrine, paying homage not officially but "in a private capacity," as ordinary people do. He did not enter the main hall of the shrine, observe the formality of Shinto, an ancient Japanese religion, or sign the visitor's book as prime minister. Immediately after he paid tribute, he left the shrine. This measure was taken in consideration, albeit perfunctorily, of opposition in Japan and protests from South Korea and China. Asking for understanding that he tried to minimize the repercussions while visiting the shrine is not comparable, however, to asking for an evaluation of his resolution not to visit.
It is very regrettable that Mr. Koizumi should visit the Yasukuni Shrine. The leader of any country should avoid hindering the country's diplomacy because of his personal belief. We cannot say readily that we will continue the summit talks regardless of his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, as if granting him an indulgence.
Even so, we don't need to be overly sensitive, either. We don't need to step forward to discontinue a dialogue. Let's hear what else Japan can say besides excuses. We should see whether Japan has any future-oriented proposal to which the country used to give lip service.
Let's ask Mr. Koizumi if he can display his political resolution on the issues of constructing facilities to replace the tomb for the dead soldiers, improving the treatment of ethnic Koreans in Japan, completely exempting South Koreans from visa requirements and signing a South Korea-Japan free trade agreement soon as much as he did on his visit to the shrine. It would not be too late for us to decide after that. Avoiding those issue is not the right thing to do.

* The writer is a professor of political science at the Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Cheol-hee


It is the domestic affairs that the issues of constructing facilities to replace the tomb for the dead soldiers.
It is the unilateral claims that improving the treatment of ethnic Koreans in Japan, completely exempting South Koreans from visa requirements and signing a South Korea-Japan free trade agreement soon.
In short, it seems that Koreans want to make a diplomatic card from the visits and the Yasukuni Shrine as Japan's mind.

The Kyodo News Agency's survey is old. Approvers exceed opposites slightly after the visit.

Public split over Yasukuni Shrine

The Asahi Shimbun

The public was split over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's latest visit to Yasukuni Shrine, but a majority voiced concerns the trip will further damage Japan's relations with its neighbors, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

And more than half of the respondents support a proposal to build a nonreligious memorial for the war dead, according to the survey.

The telephone survey was conducted Monday night through Tuesday with 978 randomly chosen eligible voters around the country responding. They were asked for their opinions on Koizumi's visit Monday morning to the Shinto shrine that honors Class-A war criminals from World War II along with the nation's war dead.

According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents felt the visit was "good," while 41 percent said Koizumi should not have done so.

At the same time, many voiced concerns about the visit's impact on Asian countries that were victims of Japanese wartime aggression.

A total of 65 percent said they were worried "very much" or "to a certain degree" about deteriorating relations with China and South Korea, whose protests over Koizumi's actions have intensified. Fifty-three percent said Tokyo should heed the criticism from Beijing and Seoul.

Among male respondents, 38 percent agreed with Koizumi's decision to pay his respects at the shrine, while 46 percent said he should have refrained.

In contrast, more women were positive about the visit, with 46 percent supporting Koizumi's move and 36 percent reacting negatively.

Among supporters of Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party, 65 percent said the visit was good. Also, 58 percent of supporters of Koizumi's Cabinet reacted positively to the Yasukuni trip.

Among all respondents who backed the visit, 37 percent said the trip was good because "it honors the spirits of the war dead." Twenty-four percent chose "the visits should not be canceled because other countries say so."

Among those opposed to the visit, 88 percent voiced concerns of varying degree about Japan's relations with China and South Korea.

The survey also asked about a plan being floated to build a state-run nonreligious memorial for people who died in battle.

Fifty-one percent supported the idea, while 28 percent opposed. This was in contrast to the 42 percent for and the 34 percent against the plan in a June survey.

Even among those who viewed Koizumi's visit in a positive light, 45 percent supported building a new memorial, while 34 percent opposed.

Koizumi said he made the Monday visit "as a member of the public." According to the survey, 46 percent of the respondents accepted that explanation, while 45 percent did not.

The survey also showed the support rate for the Koizumi Cabinet was 55 percent and the nonsupport rate was 30 percent-unchanged from a September poll.

Support for the LDP this time around was 42 percent, down slightly from 43 percent in September. The support rate for opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) was 16 percent, also down from 19 percent.(IHT/Asahi: October 20,2005)

Categories: , , ,


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?