South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, currently on an official visit to the United States, addressed the U.S. congress in a speech where she implicitly criticized Japan and its government’s stance on the country’s wartime past. President Park is currently in the United States meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and other key members of the government.
Her address to the U.S. Congress was given in English, and she thanked the U.S. for its efforts in maintaining security and stability in the Northeast Asian region, especially with North Korea showing very aggressive attitude in the past few months. But at the tail end of her speech, she made a reference to what she called “Asia’s paradox”, the idea that despite increasing economic co-dependency in the region, what little progress is made has been blighted by territorial disputes and disagreements over their shared history. The Japanese media has taken this as a direct criticism of Japan and its current administration. Recent actions of influential government ministers have served to undermine relations between Japan and South Korea, the latter crying foul over a visit of numerous ministers to a controversial shrine that honored Japanese war dead – which includes in its list a number of convicted war criminals. It has also protested over a recent speech made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe where he alluded to Japan’s aggressor role in World War II, saying that the term “aggressor” is vague and can be defined in different ways, depending on one’s perspective.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper also referenced a meeting between Park and Obama on May 7, where President Obama’s said that “Japan ought to have a correct understanding of history”, and he voiced a sense of uncertainty over the Abe administration. While President Park has indicated that economic co-dependence in the region is growing, which is a positive lift between the disputing nations in North East Asia. President Park’s term “Asia’s paradox” refers to the continuing conflict surrounding historical issues despite the economic progress. In the end, Park “criticized” the Japanese government’s implied understanding of history – where Abe recently glossed over Japan imperialistic past – with the phrase, “Those who are blind to the past cannot see the future”.
[via Japan Crush]