Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Japenese official admits that colonization of Korea was a "tragic incident"

OMG. I thought I would die before this happened:

As background, Japan annexed the Korea peninsula in 1910, and occupied the country until the end of World War II, when Japan lost all of its territories. The Japanese refer to this period as "Japanese rule." Korea refers to it as "Japanese forced occupation," which feels very similar to the South referring to the Civil War as "The War of Northern Aggression."

Japan has rarely apologized or acknowledged any wrongdoing of actions occurred during colonization and/or the war. Their justification involves self-preservation during a time period when other nations were doing the same; the resolution of compensation through the 1951 San Francisco Treaty; and being the victims of atomic bombings somewhat absolving them of all their prior sins. So this admission of potential negative impact of their actions on Korea is shinjirarenai indeed.

(It's telling that this story is from a Korean news service; I didn't find it at all on the Daily Yomiuri site).

For more background on the Japanese occupation of Korea,
There are varying theories on whether or not the Japanese occupation of Korea ultimately hurt or helped the country. Some feel that Japanese investment in infrastructure and education pulled Korea into modernity (albeit through extremely coercive ways). Some think that what Japan did could be considered "cultural genocide" -- Japanese occupiers forced Koreans to learn Japanese, change their names to Japanese ones, and generally operated under a mission "to root out all elements of Korean culture from society." This included pilfering of Korean artifacts, heavily editing traditional Korean poems and songs, and suppression of the Korean language. 

When the war started, however, things got much, much worse. Some people have heard of the comfort women; forced laborers; and, to a lesser extent, the medical experimentation project Unit 731. Japan tries very hard not to acknowledge any of this, probably for liability, but also, I think, to preserve some semblance of national pride and sanity.

1 comment:

Molly said...

So sad, yet inspiring to see when the powers that be recognize, admit, and apologize for past mistakes. That takes humility.