Saturday, May 9, 2009

Forcing the party line in Japan on "Dokdo"?

This is a bit disturbing.

While writing this comment at Brian's, I had planned to quote a Japan Times article from 2005 that, as I stated in my "Woe is Tokto" post, seemed to support the Korean side in the Tokto-Takeshima issue. This was what I quoted from them, by cut-and-paste in 2005:
The islets were placed under Korean sovereignty in 1900. Shimane incorporated the islands into the prefecture in 1905, after Japan seized them during the Russo-Japanese war.
It always seemed to me that this was an acknowledgement by the JT back in 2005 that Japan didn't have a claim prior to the 1905 war when the Imperial Japanese military grabbed control of the islands. In fact, I think I had posted a link to that "smoking gun" in a number of places.

But when I looked at the same link today, this is all I could find about the historical basis of the claims:
The prefectural government says that Feb. 22 this year marked the 100th anniversary of the issuance of a prefectural notice that declared the islets part of Shimane in line with a Cabinet decision. Also in 1905, the signing of the Korean-Japanese Convention gave Japan full administrative control over Korea's foreign affairs.
So the JT expunged the part they had written about Tokto already being under Korean sovereignty, as well as about the islets being seized in war, but it did acknowledge that Japan had control of Korea's foreign affairs (though it plays down the nefarious reasons why Japan had that control). This is not my imagination, as Marmot's Hole contributor Kimbob quoted the same thing.

[UPDATE: My earlier thought, that the second quoted passage had been added after the first one was removed, was incorrect. After comparing Kimbob's reprint of the article in its entirety with the one online now, I realized that the first quoted passage, which strongly supports the Korean position, was simply deleted, with nothing else added or subtracted. Un-freakin-believable.]

Though, frankly, I wouldn't imagine a major Korean newspaper taking Japan's side on this issue (at least not saying the Japanese position has merit, anyway), I would be furious if they later re-edited what they'd written like this.

To my knowledge this was not done immediately afterward, but fairly recently, like within the last year (Japan Times does not allow Wayback Machine searches). And if that's the case, that kind of (probably) right-wing governmental pressure is somewhat alarming in a country like Japan. I have myriad criticisms of the press in Korea as a whole, and I have no illusions that the Japanese media is squeaky clean and impeccably honest and ethical, but this kind of thing should not stand.

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