From the New York Times.
When my grandfather lived in Palisades Park, I don’t think that there was a Korean community. Nowadays, though, Palisades has a substantial community, and they have a small memorial to the comfort women (Korean sex slaves) of the Japanese Imperial Army during the Pacific War (1910-1945).
This memorial attracted the attention of the Japanese government, and they went and did something stupid: they asked the local government to get rid of it.
It makes me wonder when Japan is finally going to stop recruiting for diplomatic posts out of the same crop of college graduates; that is, when they are going to stop relying on the same families to produce their ambassadors and other officials representing Japan.
The treatment of Korea by the Japanese military junta of the early 20th century is one of the sore spots of Far East Asian relations. I don’t think that South Korea even allowed Japanese to be broadcast in that country until either 1999 or 2002. (So BoA could only sing the Korean version of her J-pop songs in Korea in her very early days.)
You would think if people had half the sense, they would have sent a delegation to Palisades Park to offer a formal apology (or repeat an apology) of Japan to the aggrieved Korean community. That’s what would have made sense, in terms of 21st century diplomacy. But no. That’s not what happened, was it?
This is a shame. For anyone who has spent some time in Japan, you know that the contemporary Japanese are very nice. Few people around today had anything to do with World War II, and the young generation is very open to international things, even while respecting traditions as they have been carried on in Japan. There are recalcitrants, of course. There always are.
I wonder whose brilliant idea it was, though, to show up in Palisades Park and make that request? Particularly in the era of social media and Facebook. It might not have been published in the New York Times like it was, but it would have gotten around in one way or another.
It should be no surprise that there are people coming out of Far East Asian communities who do not like what Japan did, and who aren’t going to forget. This will especially be so, as the grandmother generation tells the young kids today about what Japan did in the 1930’s. Just because Japan forgot about what Japan did, doesn’t mean the other people did.
But it is maybe an aspect our total victory over the militaristic Empire of Japan in 1945, that our peace loving, democratic ideals have become so accepted in Japan, that it is hard for younger Japanese generations to even believe that that country did the things that the victims allege that they did. It is either Tamogami Revisionism, or this other possible thing. One or the other, and lack of diplomat skills.