Japanese media rears its ugly head

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Japanese media rears its ugly head

This isn’t the first time, but it’s still just as enraging. While Seoul has tried to ignore the insult, it’s been hard to swallow. The ultra-conservative Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun has always taken an anti-Korean view, but this time it crossed the line.

A senior political desk reporter for the paper wrote that Korea was “two-timing” China and the United States, the result of what it called “negative ethnic inheritance.” He also derided Korea’s foreign policy as “toadyism.”

This column not only distorted history but seriously defamed Korea’s integrity. Moreover, he compared President Park Geun-hye to Empress Myeongseong, the Joseon Dynasty royal who was murdered by Japanese agents under the auspices of the Japanese government.

The bigger problem, however, was the Sankei’s reaction after the column led to controversy. On Tuesday, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged a complaint with the newspaper through the Korean Embassy in Japan demanding the column be removed.

A Sankei official made the excuse that it hadn’t been printed in the paper and that they couldn’t check everything posted online. “It’s regrettable that the column had a negative impact on Korea-Japan relations,” he said.

But the official made it sound as if the newspaper hadn’t been responsible for the column. “It was the opinion of the writer, and due to the freedom of expression, the column cannot be removed.”

Japan once again used the “freedom of speech” argument, just like when former Seoul bureau chief Datsuya Kato was indicted for writing a column defaming President Park.

Furthermore, in 2014, when Bae Chun-hee died, Japan continued its insensitive tirades. Bae was a participant in the weekly Wednesday protests that demand an apology from Japan for sexually enslaving tens of thousands of young women and girls from occupied countries during World War II. “The comfort women are still worshiped as fighters against Japan,” it wrote.

This kind of callous content is what has made the Sankei Shimbun an unreliable media source. So here, we need to calmly review its tactics.

A foreign policy specialist in Japan stated that it’s only Korea that’s furious. Sankei, meanwhile, actually relishes the controversy. By accentuating its far-right tendency, it wants to reinforce its position in Japan, so it’s unnecessary for Korea’s Foreign Ministry to demand Sankei retract the column. Fighting against such a ridiculous enemy makes us look like a fool. So let’s just ignore them completely.

The author is a Tokyo correspondent
for the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 3, Page 33

by LEE JEONG-HEON

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