[FOUNTAIN]Japan rising, Korea should take warning

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[FOUNTAIN]Japan rising, Korea should take warning

On September 27, 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan paid a call on General Douglas MacArthur. The hands of the nervous emperor of the defeated nation were so shaky that he could not light the cigarette General MacArthur offered. The American commander lighted the cigarette for the emperor and began talking. During the Russo-Japanese War, he said, he visited Tokyo with his father, Arthur MacArthur, who was the military governor of the Philippines at the time. An outbreak of cholera had hit the Japanese Army, and the Meiji emperor consulted Arthur MacArthur about how to make the soldiers take their medicines properly. Arthur MacArthur suggested that the emperor should include an imperial order on the medicine boxes that all soldiers must take the pills every four hours. When the emperor did as the American suggested, Japanese soldiers followed the order and took their medicine on time. The healthy soldiers won the war.
Emperor Hirohito was saved. General MacArthur was aware of the absolute authority of the emperor, who dropped his head and took responsibility. The commander of the Allied powers in Japan answered that the emperor’s advice was necessary for Japan.
The emperor’s thinking was revealed in his wife Nagako’s letter to Crown Prince Akihito, who had taken shelter in the mountains. “Your father has many worries, but fortunately, everything will be well for Japan. We have to build a great nation. Let’s make today’s tragedy a springboard for tomorrow’s development.”
Later, Shigeru Yoshida promulgated Japan’s pacifist constitution while he was prime minister. He later told a confidant, “Japan is now powerless. It’s time to grow economic power. National defense cost money, but we have no money to spare on defense. Let’s just consider that we had asked the U.S. forces to take over the defense for us. But the U.S. forces are not to be here forever. The time will come when everything changes.”
Finally, the Japanese seem to find that the time has arrived. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan drafted a constitutional revision that drops the key article in the peace constitution, creates true military forces and allows warfare. Japan is also eyeing a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. As the saying goes, “Japan will rise; Koreans beware.”


by Oh Byung-sang

The writer is the JoongAng Ilbo’s London correspondent.

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