[Outlook]Charging at windmills

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[Outlook]Charging at windmills

Some people are like Don Quixote. They reason and behave in weird and unexpected ways. They do not care about common sense or norms in society.
Japanese mathematician Masahiko Fujiwara, a professor at Ochanomizu University, seems to be one of those people.
Fujiwara is also author of the book “The Dignity of a State,” which was a best-selling book in Japan last year.
More than 2 million copies were sold in Japan. It seems a little bit bizarre for a mathematician to talk about the dignity of a state. Perhaps that helped the book become even more popular.
In it, Fujiwara says that Japan has lost its dignity.
Since the Pacific War ended, the Japanese have been educated in a way that saps the people’s pride and confidence in their country.
As a result, the Japanese have entirely forgotten their unique sentiments and paradigm and have instead adopted Western logic, which is well represented in a market economy.
He maintains that Japan must take a bold stand against the trend of globalization, which is led by the Western world, and become a noble and aloof country.
By doing so, Japan can restore its dignity, which will be the country’s contribution to all of humankind, he concludes.
His view on sending Japanese troops to Iraq is even more Don Quixote-like.
Japan sent some 600 troops from its Self-Defense Forces to Iraq. They have already been withdrawn. Fujiwara says that no other nation’s people will praise his country’s decision to send troops in the first place. Doing so will not be seen as a valuable contribution to international society.
He says people would think Japan simply did what the United States told it to do because Japan is like a vassal country to the United States.
According to Fujiwara, if Japan wants to make a contribution to the world, it should announce that Japan, which has no hard feelings or objections to Islam, will take charge of reconstruction of Iraq in order for the troops of all other countries to be able to go home.
If Japan doesn’t have the courage to do this, if it acts in a cowardly fashion simply to please the United States and if it wants to make the smallest possible sacrifice to avoid being blamed, the country might as well forget about contributions to international society, he asserts.
What would have happened in Iraq if Japan had taken charge of the Muslim country’s reconstruction, as Fujiwara suggests?
Would the United States have said yes to Japan’s suggestion to begin with?
Would Iraq have still been in chaos with dozens of people getting killed in daily attacks by suicide bombers amid disputes over religion?
Or would the country be restored to order and reconstruction speeded up by now?
Early next month, the leaders of the two Koreas are to meet.
What if they make the suggestion that South and North Korea will reduce their military manpower by 10 percent each and send those troops to Iraq as UN peacekeeping forces so troops from other countries can go home?
Would it be praised as a brilliant idea that would contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula by reducing the military and a good way to contribute to the entire world at the same time?
Or would it be condemned as a crazy idea to try to become a hero while putting people’s lives at risk?
South Korea sent 1,200 troops from the Zaytun Unit to Iraq, but, to be honest, it did not do so willingly.
Some 200 members of the Dongui Medical Unit and the Dasan Engineering Unit dispatched to Afghanistan have started to prepare for withdrawal, as was promised to the Taliban.
In eight areas, including Lebanon, 390 South Korean soldiers are positioned as UN peacekeeping forces, but the number of the troops is embarrassingly small compared to the entire UN force, which numbers 100,000. North Korea has sent none.
Is there a good way to help establish peace on the Korean Peninsula while contributing to international society?
People sometimes get inspiration from weird ideas or behavior, like Don Quixote. That is perhaps why Fujiwara’s book sold briskly.
So please do not condemn my idea as a mere fantasy. You can use your imagination, too.
I await for good news from the upcoming summit meeting.

*The writer is an editorial writer and traveling correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok
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