Let’s Get Even With Japan
By Oh Young-jin
Assistant Managing Editor
It should be treated as nothing less than a declaration of war against the rest of the world. The choice of weapon in this war started by Japan is not guns, missiles or atomic bombs, but a collective sense of determination emulating that of Jewish hunters pursuing those responsible for the Holocaust.
Let's start with a fact check.
Flaunting repeated calls for moderation, Japan on Monday said that it would include its official claim of Dokdo, Korea's easternmost islets, in new teaching manuals for primary and secondary school students.
Why so big a fuss?
Well, by putting this latest Japanese provocation into historical context the answer becomes apparent.
In the run-up to and during the Second World War, the imperial Japanese army invaded and conquered much of Asia as part of an effort to create a Japanese utopia in which they were the chosen people, and everyone else was subservient to them, a hierarchical society ruled by their emperor.
There were many rapes of Nanking not only in China but also Korea, as well as the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and a systematic exploitation of the region.
Many young Asian men were drafted into the imperial army and decimated on battlefields as part of a war that was not theirs. Young girls were kidnapped and forced to work as sex slaves in military brothels. Recently, some of those young girls, now grandmothers, have emerged from years of living in shame to confront Japan about its past misdeeds.
However, the Japanese government has ignored demands that it take responsibility, saying that the issue was settled through a payment made to the Korean government in the 1960s.
For westerners, it is worth recalling that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and gave Americans what FDR aptly called the ``day of infamy.'' In the ensuing Pacific War, more GI's were killed than that of the Iraq campaign and 9/11 terror attack combined.
However hard it may be to say or even think, I agree with historians who claim that the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nakasaki probably saved many lives by bringing the conflict to a quick end, albeit in such a tragic way.
Even with this still fresh in the minds of many Japanese, a look at modern Japan is disappointing. There is no sense of shame in the collective mind of the Japanese, something evident in the German psyche. Is it because Germans lost two wars, while Japan only lost one? Or maybe because Japan was nursed back to health under American intensive care rather than slapped with the Treaty of Versaille. Or does Japan's pacifist constitution make many believe that the feral beast in Japan has been domesticated forever?
History is important because it serves as a reminder of past mistakes and helps prevent similar ones being made. In this sense, the latest Japanese claim to Dokdo may be looked at in years to come as the seed that led to new generations of Japanese having an inaccurate sense of history, perhaps encouraging them to repeat the actions of their forefathers without worrying about the ramifications. Therefore, this might not be an isolated issue that only affects Korea but one that could tie up the rest of the world into an even bigger knot.
With Japan the aggressor in this war of history, a two-pronged campaign to defeat it is needed.
First, at the first point of contact, Korea should take a stand. Its first mission is to get itself ready for a long war of attrition, meaning that it should refrain from reacting to every action and comment made by Tokyo. Secondly, politicians must not assume that Japan will change and behave.
For the rest of the world, it should be kept in mind that Korea is the first line of defense and offense, and that if it crumbles, it would soon be the turn of other countries.
For starters, let's try to derail Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.