It’s not a question of phrasing

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It’s not a question of phrasing

On the JTBC variety show “Non-Summit” on July 6, Japanese cast member Yuta Nakamoto was asked how he viewed the historical issues between Korea and Japan, to which he responded, “Apologies need to be made repeatedly until the victim accepts it.”

His opinion sounded familiar. In April, 66-year-old Haruki Murakami made a similar remark.

In an interview with Kyodo News, the best-selling author said, “I think that is all Japan can do - apologize until both countries say: ‘We can’t necessarily get over it completely, but you’ve apologized enough. OK, let’s move on now.’”

However, I just can’t agree with Murakami. His claim is based on the premise that Japan has already apologized a number of times, and since Korea has not accepted it, Japan needs to apologize more.

Is that true? Has Japan really apologized? Whether it is an apology, or a regret, Japan has never expressed it sincerely. An apology in July would be followed by a visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in August. When the administration in Japan changes, so too does the attitude. Tokyo even downplays the 1993 Kono Statement and the 1995 Murayama Statement, both considered relatively sincere repentances. There has never been true remorse. Korea isn’t angry because of the level of the apology, it’s because we never received an apology in the first place, so the idea of a continuous apology makes no sense.

Because Japan has yet to apologize, Korea’s demand for one is fair and just. Naturally, Koreans are closely watching whether the address by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will contain the terms “colonial rule” and “apology.” Still, including those phrases doesn’t mean Japan is sincere. Abe already revealed his true colors when Japan obtained Unesco World Heritage status for several of its Meiji era industrial sites.

Tokyo accepted Korea’s demand to acknowledge in the registration that multitudes of Koreans had been “forced to work” at some of those facilities, but the next day, the Japanese government changed its stance and claimed that the acknowledgement did not mean “forced labor.” So what can we expect from Abe’s statement?

Let’s not demand an apology at all and let Japan do what it wants. Instead, let’s do what we need to do. Let’s use all possible legal means. Also, Korea should more aggressively publicize Japan’s crimes against humanity during the war - forced labor, human experimentation and sexual enslavement. It will be a long battle, but there is no other way. Japan gave Korea 36 years of suffering and 70 years of humiliation. We must put an end to this.

The author is a business news reporter for the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 15, Page 34


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