중앙데일리

Komeito’s comments

Aug 03,2019
SEO SEUNG-WOOK
The author is a Tokyo bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.

“Japanese people are disappointed. It is because of the dissatisfaction that Korea does not keep promises between governments when administrations change. At the time of discussing the comfort women agreement, the Korean government and assemblymen asked for Komeito’s help. I remember asking if they had the determination to keep it when agreement is made. But this is what happened. The ball to resolve the issue is in the court of the Blue House in Korea.”

Komeito, which forms a coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party, is a “peace party” emphasizing peace with neighbors. But chairman Natsuo Yamaguchi made sour remarks to the Korean assemblymen visiting the party headquarters on July 31. The cold meeting with Komeito must have been more shocking than Liberal Democratic Party’s refusal to meet at all.

The Komeito held a detailed briefing on the conversation with the Korean delegation. “Yamaguchi’s comments were so heavy that there was not a single laugh for 70 minutes. Faces became a bit relaxed for the photo shoot.” Komeito’s attitude is in the context of anti-Korean sentiment in Japan. Now that Komeito has turned its back, diplomatic communications between Korea and Japan are at their worst in years.

But Korea’s diplomatic position relative to Japan feels like it is regressing. While it is somewhat improved since Ambassador to Japan Nam Gwan-pyo took the office, there is a long way to go. The news that a Korean consul general working in Japan is under investigation for sexually harassing a female employee shocked me. In the middle of the diplomatic war against Japan, the alleged misdeed happened at the frontline of the battle with the enemy. As they say, an enemy’s misfortune is one’s happiness.

Japanese media preyed on it and played it big. The justice ministry and police ask what happened, whether it happened in the consulate or what he was like.

It does not end there. The response to Japan’s sudden announcement on the tightened screening on Korean seafood, such as halibut, was quite a sight. While it was a prelude to the latest export ban, the core diplomatic line was to say that it shouldn’t be defined as a retaliation when they didn’t say it was retaliation.

Then, they became angry and asked to refrain from criticizing the government and causing internal discord as it is most important to extinguish the fire first.

In the fierce diplomatic war, what could be a greater sin than incompetence and negligence?

A more strict yardstick should be applied to these people than the efforts to eradicate the deep-rooted evil practices that the current administration is devoted to.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 2, Page 24


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