Japanese editor considered for Korean award

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Japanese editor considered for Korean award

Seoul is considering giving the Japanese journalist Yoshibumi Wakamiya (1948-2016), the former editor-in-chief of The Asahi Shimbun, a posthumous award for improving relations between Korea and Japan.

“Wakamiya did many things to bring Korea and Japan closer and that should be recognized,” a Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on Wednesday. “Even those who never met him have said that our government should recognize his efforts.”

Wakamiya may receive a Distinguished Order of Diplomatic Service, which is given to foreigners who have significantly strengthened relations with Korea.

The award-winning journalist died on April 28 in a hotel in Beijing at the age of 68. He was visiting China then to participate in a dialogue between Korea, Japan and China concerning Northeast Asian historical problems.

Throughout his career, Wakamiya promoted reconciliation between Japan and neighboring countries.

He worked with Asahi from 1970 to 2013 as a political reporter, columnist and chairman of the editorial board, serving as its editor-in-chief from 2011 until his retirement.

In 1981, he spent a year studying abroad at Yonsei University.

He wrote numerous columns opposing former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which controversially enshrines World War II war criminals. He also published a column in 2005 arguing that Japan should “acknowledge Korea’s sovereignty over Dokdo.”

Wakamiya consistently supported former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s 1995 apology for Japanese wartime aggression, as well as the 1993 statement issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono acknowledging the sexual enslavement of young women, or “comfort women,” during World War II.

He also first proposed holding a 2002 FIFA World Cup between Japan and Korea in 1995 in the pages of The Asahi Shimbun.

After retiring from journalism, he worked as a senior fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange, served as chair professor at Dongseo University in Busan and as a visiting fellow at the Institute for Japanese Studies at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies.

Korea’s Ministry of Interior and the Cabinet will review the proposal to award Wakamiya for his work.

BY YOO JEE-HYE, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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