Another day, another reason for people to be mad at Japan. South Koreans woke up today to newspapers splashing headlines like “Abe even denies Imperial Japan’s aggression,” “Japan reveals true color” and “Diplomatic provocations made by Abe regime on back of popularity.” This comes after reports came out of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statements during a parliamentary meeting suggesting that the colonization of Korea may not be an “act of aggression”, depending on your perspective on the situation.
While he may not have said the exact words, the reports from that meeting indicate that he said that the definition of aggression is subjective, depending on what side of the situation you’re looking at it. Following that logic, then the 1910-45 colonization of Korea may not be considered an aggressive act. This did not sit well with a country that until now has scars from what they suffered at the hands of Japanese militarism.
In what may be one of the few issues they agree on, both the ruling and opposition parties in South Korea are united in saying that those statements are unacceptable. Rep. Lee Hye-hoon of the ruling Saenuri Party said that they are concerned that under Abe’s leadership, Japan’s militarism might be making a comeback. Opposition leader Rep. Moon Hee-sang of the Democratic United Party urged President Park Geun-hye to deal with it as early as now so that Japan will not “shatter peace in Asia.” A foreign ministry official said in order for Japan-Korea relations to stabilize, there needs to be a “correct perception of history”. South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se urged Abe to become a “responsible leader with a correct understanding of history.”
The past few days have seen relations between the two countries worsen, as Yun canceled his visit and planned bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in protest of the visit of several ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine. Two days later, around 170 senior officials made a trip to the controversial war memorial which earned more criticism from South Korean officials. A proposed meeting between PM Abe and President Park is now in jeopardy, as well as the scheduled trilateral summit between Japan, China and South Korea.
[ via Yonhap News ]