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[Viewpoint] Take the right approach on Dokdo

If we deflect the back-handed arguments of some Japanese, more and more will begin to share our point of view.

May 29,2009
On May 27, Sejong University opened its Dokdo Research Institute, and the occasion brought to mind many things.

The Dokdo issue is very special, because it’s something all Korean people including all politicians, whether members of the ruling or opposition party, can completely agree on.

And yet the issue is an obstacle to friendship between Korea and Japan, and it is important to remove that obstacle.

Around May last year, I happened to find a Korean-language Web site that criticizes me and other pro-Korean Japanese scholars. I concluded that the Korean language used on the site seemed to have been written by a Japanese person, and I asked the cyber police to investigate.

The site condemned not only me but also Seichu Naito, professor emeritus at Shimane University, and Park Byeong-seup, a Korean-Japanese who works in Japan and operates a Web site there. It praised the most prominent supporter of Japan’s claim over the Dokdo islets in Japanese academia.

The site wrote in great detail that this Japanese scholar had started his research to prove the Dokdo islets belong to Japan in order to show his daughter that Japan did not commit atrocities in the past and that it is a great country. Since the site goes into even greater detail about his arguments than his book does, I sensed that he himself was the operator of the site.

The police informed me that a person with a Japanese name created the site in Britain. In Japan, many people create Web sites abroad so as not to be sued or reported.

I told my students and friends about this. They visited his site, wrote comments and criticized the operator severely. There were so many critical comments he probably could not respond to them all. The site was shut down a short while later. But more recently I found a similar Korean-language Web site, and I am once again trying to find out who is operating it.

It’s widely known that this Japanese scholar has operated not only the site I found out about but also many others, all to promote his distorted arguments about the Dokdo issue. In order to attack Korea’s claims, he has even asked Americans to operate an English-language site on Dokdo.

He uses software to manipulate the visitor numbers for Web sites that attack Korea so that they will be listed on top of lists of frequently visited Web sites. Japanese “cyber-forces” even infiltrate Korean Web sites on the Dokdo issue. Their strategy is to wage a war in cyberspace against Korea through measures that nobody notices.

Their purpose is to confuse Koreans about the issue. Now is the era of the Internet. If Korea is poorer in technology and strategy than Japan, and if the number of Koreans who participate in the Internet debates is smaller than the Japanese, that will mean serious trouble.

Meanwhile, we can form an alliance with Japanese who listen to their conscience about sovereignty over the Dokdo islets. Among Japanese intellectuals, the number of those who have the ability to admit the truth is increasing. If Korea prepares itself, the number of such scholars in Japan will expand.

In 2006, organizations of Koreans who live in the United States worked hard to get the House of Representative to pass a resolution to urge Japan to deliver an apology for drafting sex slaves here during World War II. Those same organizations have started to handle the Dokdo issue seriously as well.

What’s most important, however, is that we get united inside Korea. Only after that can we work together with those in Japan and the United States who listen to their conscience. We should remember that heaven helps those who give up their personal interests for a greater cause.

*The writer is a professor of Japanese studies at Sejong University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Yuji Hosaka



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