[FOUNTAIN]Tokyo should ignore its own people’s viewThere had been wars in Northeast Asia in the past, but Japan was solely responsible for putting the entire region in a state of war in the 20th century. The annexation of Korea, the Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War were all because of right-wing politicians and militarists in Japan.
As a defeated nation in World War II, Japan did not repent of its war crimes or properly apologize to its neighbors about the past. As China became communist, the Korean Peninsula was divided and the Korean War broke out, Japan instead became a leading Asian member of the free world.
Therefore, Korea and many other Asian nations in the democratic camp were forced to reconcile with Japan without being able to address and resolve their entangled history with Japan.
On May 22, the second Japan-North Korea summit was held in Pyeongyang. Tokyo wasted over 20 months in implementing the outcome of the first summit meeting, which could have played a constructive role for the Northeast Asian situation. The government was pressured by critical domestic popular opinion about the issue of abducted Japanese citizens. Once again, the Japanese public is criticizing the results of the second summit.
It is understandable that the families of the kidnapped are frustrated by the government’s promise to the North to provide food although the abduction issue was not yet resolved. But it is absurd that even the Japanese media and politicians, who should have a broader view of Northeast Asian issues, use negative public sentiment as an opportunity to overthrow the achievements of the summit meeting and to censure North Korea. Japan needs to display political leadership and contribute to regional stability and peace, and its agenda includes normalization of ties with North Korea.
Raising human rights concerns is understandable. But there are other issues as well between Tokyo and Pyeongyang. There are countless unresolved human rights encroachments and damages because of Japanese imperialism still remaining in Northeast Asia. The media here is furious about the unconscionable double standard of the Japanese government that brazenly denies the comfort women issue. Why does Japan conveniently ignore international opinion?
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.