Monday, August 13, 2012

Tokyo “riled” by Lee Myungbak’s visit to Tokto

The Japan Times has the story on Japan caring about Tokto, the issue only Korea cares about.

This succinct email was sent from my iPhone.



  1. LMB's visit to Tokto/Takeshima has cost him my respect, at least.

  2. That is simply not true. In my opinion, LMB's visit is ill-advised, to say the least, and will inevitably contribute to a deterioration in Korea-Japan relations. Such patent insults will likely come back to haunt Korea, when it most needs Japanese support.

  3. Robert, I disagree.

    First, as I pointed out here, I think a non-violent and non-emotional display from a position of power helps to defuse much of the emotion that kookier elements of South Korean society may wish to express.

    Second, I don't see Tokyo's and Seoul's claims here as equal. Not the historic claim and certainly not the political position. Japan is the aggressor that keeps hearkening back to territorial claims stemming from its imperial expansionism.

    It is that insistence on an anachronistic view — which is part and parcel of the government kowtowing to rightist views on Comfort Women, history whitewashing, etc. — that is the root cause of any deterioration in Korea-Japan relations.

  4. There is nothing "ill-advised" about a President visiting his own country.

  5. He wasn't referring to Dokdo. Posting articles about how "grotesque" Korea is doesn't give you much respect to lose.

  6. LMB's visit is 'insulting'? You've got that arse-backwards, my friend. If you or Japan pretends/pretends to believe the Korean President visiting a Korean island to be an insult to Japan, that's an insult to Korea.

  7. All of which presupposes the glorious party line: that Tokto is inalienably Korean - which inconveniently appears at odds with the actual international legal situation. But this could readily be settled by referring the matter to the appropriate international court – which Korea, it would seem, is not willing to do.

    But in behind that is the very disturbing trend, of a collective willingness to believe what one is told, and to assume that if one believes it, and everyone here (in Korea) parrots it, then lo and behold - it is true!

    My objections to this way of thinking go far beyond the political; the worldview it embraces seems to me unbalanced, and characteristic of the human presupposition that the world serves to suit human/our/my interests, a worldview that is directly responsible for the increasing overpopulation and pollution of our planet, and the mass extinction of species we are engendering.

    Regarding Tokto/Takashima, a view from the other side of the fence can be found at
    I must honestly say that I frequently disagree with Ampontan, particularly in (what I regards as) his whitewashing of Japanese colonialization of Korea. But in this matter, there is at least something in what he says, that strikes a moderately detached reader as being reasonable.

    At the very least, dialogue is called for; but the Korean nationalist sentiment allows of little debate, or the consideration of alternative interpretations of reality and of history. And what is Korea going to do – is it intending to declare war on Japan? It could be argued that - from a legal point of view - they have already invaded and occupied sovereign Japanese territory; what kind of a position does this put Japan in? What is likely to be their response when international circumstances change, as they inevitably will, and the day comes when Korea sorely needs Japanese support, whether against Chinese or North Korean aggression?

    LMB’s jaunt is I suggest shortsighted, and will I believe prove very expensive to long-term Korean interests. Why should Japan now support any Korean remonstration at Chinese or North Korean attempts to claim (South) Korean territory? Doesn’t his visit significantly weaken the Western alliance? Or have we officially now capitulated to Chinese interests? (In which case, at least be honest about it, and bid farewell to US protection).

  8. Further to my earlier comment today (which is currently awaiting approval), I would like to clarify that I believe that Korea's natural ally in the region is Japan. Further: (in my opinion) Korea has a great deal more to gain from a closer relationship with Japan, than does Japan.

    Presupposing that to be the case, both parties need to work towards a more agreeable accommodation, whereby Japan more openly recognizes the atrocities visited on the Korean people and the land during the colonization period. Korea, for its part, needs to recognize the tragic limitations of its shortsightedness and inability to move beyond the past, and beyond cynical political manipulation and cheap point-scoring. There is far more to the world than politics.

    In all sincerity, I believe that Korea could learn a great deal from Japan, if it were prepared to let itself do so.


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