[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]A lesson in why Japan is hatedIn regard to the column, “Japanese fed up with hostility,”(JoongAng Daily, May 26) perhaps the writer, Richard Halloran, should talk to fewer sushi chefs and musicians and ask Koreans a question or two about how they see the world. I can assure you, he would get no sympathy in Korea.
The most cogent point he makes in his analysis of the Korea-Japan relations over the past half-century is the statement that his friends “pointed to 18 to 20 apologies for World War II.” Korea does not ask for 18 or 20 scripted apologies, it asks for 127,417,244 (2005 estimate) sincere apologies. It is easy, well, perhaps not so easy, given the Japanese culture, for a leader to stand up and apologize, beat himself on the breast and say, “Japan did an evil thing and on behalf of the Japanese nation I wish to apologize, etc...”
It is more difficult, and I would say that given the incessant Japanese propaganda machine, impossible, for the Japanese people to recognize what Japan did, as the German people have long recognized what Germany did, and say they are sorry for it.
Instead, the world has been subjected to revisionist history, second-class citizenship for Koreans in Japan, official visits to the Yasukuni war shrine, failure to acknowledge and make amends to individuals severely harmed by official acts, to wit, and not to put too fine a point on it, the forced prostitution of Korean women and girls ― and every other form of official and societal denial.
Like Mr. Halloran, I have many Japanese friends. When they visit Korea they are surprised to learn the true source of Korean anger and return to Japan, as they tell me, ashamed. Does Japan think that with $30 billion to China or “similar aid” to Korea it can buy public blindness to the past? They know better, because were they in Korea’s position, their acquiescence could not be bought.
The question I ask myself is, why Mr. Halloran would jump into this fight, other than that he has access to the forum? Surely he knows the difference here is that in the West, expiation comes with acknowledgement. Contrition is the road to forgiveness. To generalize, in East Asian cultures, acknowledgement is not contrition but weakness.
As long as Japan continues to characterize itself as a unique, higher race, and as long as 127 million Japanese people refuse to acknowledge the past and fail to demand that their leaders behave in ways that express a national sentiment of contrition, Korea, China, and all the other nations that suffered under the Japanese heel and bayonet will continue to seethe with scorn, $30 billion, $40 billion or $100 billion of aid notwithstanding.
The Japanese anger to which Mr. Halloran refers is the anger of failure, the anger of being reminded of their transgressions against humanity, the anger of recognition that millions of formerly oppressed people hold them in disrepute. It is the anger of guilt.
The writer is an American.
by Steve Stupak