JAPAN MUST NOT COMPROMISE WITH SOUTH KOREA’S LEFTWING REVOLUTIONARY REGIME
Hong Hyun, a longtime South Korean friend of mine, recently voiced his disappointment with how the Japanese view South Korea.
“It’s very unfortunate that most Japanese see the Moon Jae-in administration and South Korea as one and the same. The Japanese media fail to realize that a significant number of South Koreans, conservatives and other, including myself, are in fact very angry with the way Moon runs our country. In point of fact, we are as upset as many people in Japan about the abnormal situation developing in my country under the Moon administration.”
Hong currently serves as editor-in-chief of the One Korea Daily News, a Japanese-language weekly newspaper published in Tokyo and read predominantly by Korean residents in Japan. A former minister at the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo, Hong has been involved with Japan and the Japanese for nearly forty years.
Hong was referring to a series of incidents that have rocked Japan-South Korea relations as a result of actions the Moon administration has taken against Japan since he assumed the presidency in May 2017. These incidents include:
1) The South Korean Supreme Court’s ruling on October 30 ordering Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to pay four Korean plaintiffs 400 million won (US$87,700) each in compensation for their “forced labor” during World War II;
2) South Korean Navy warships hoisting a flag symbolizing legendary admiral Yi Sun-sin during an international fleet review off Jeju Island on October 11, while at the same time demanding that Japan remove its internationally recognized “rising sun” flag from its warship. (Yi thwarted Japanese invasions in the 16th century. Japan subsequently skipped the naval review.); and,
3) Moon declaring, shortly after he assumed office in May 2017, that the landmark Japan-South Korea agreement on the so-called “comfort women,” signed on December 28, 2015 to resolve the issue “finally and irreversibly,” was seriously flawed.
Pointing out that thinking South Koreans are ashamed of these and other tactless actions the Moon administration has taken against Japan, Hong expressed serious concern that things could go from bad to worse between Tokyo and Seoul, warning the Japanese government to formulate a solid South Korea policy without equating Moon Jae-in’s government with South Korea as a nation.
What we Japanese must understand first and foremost as regards the ruling by South Korea’s top court is that neither the Japanese government nor corporations are required to compensate the four former Korean plaintiffs identified as “conscripted laborers” in wartime Japan. Article II of the “1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems concerning Property and Claim and on the Economic Cooperation between Japan and the Republic of Korea” stipulates that the two nations “confirm that (the) problems concerning property, rights, and interests of the two Contracting Parties (including juridical person) …are settled completely and finally.” In other words, the governments of Japan and South Korea confirmed, as an important step towards normalizing diplomatic relations, that all claim rights, including compensations for South Korean individuals and juridical persons, were satisfactorily settled.
At the time, the two governments exchanged elaborate minutes of the negotiations, detailing in eight points what specifically was included in the “claim rights,” i.e., what rights the two sides recognized as having been fully settled. These included unpaid salaries and compensations the “conscripted workers” were entitled to.
Quartet Were Not Conscripted
It was only natural that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated immediately after he got word of the ruling: “The verdict is a decision that is impossible in light of international law.” Simultaneously, he pointed out a crucial point pertaining to the four plaintiffs.
Abe called the quartet “laborers who hailed from the Korean Peninsula” instead of referring to them as “conscripted laborers.” This is an important point, as I will explain below.
The Korean side, along with the members of the Japanese media including myself, have uniformly referred to them as “conscripted former Korean laborers.” That is also how the two governments have called them. We have used that name believing that Japanese and South Korean courts had correctly identified them.
Wartime conscription meant “compulsory enrollment” for the armed or labor forces. Once invoked, citizens had no choice but to comply with the order.
In Korea, which was occupied by Japan from 1910 to 1945, there were three types of wartime labor recruitment. In Type 1 (1939-41), Japanese corporations directly recruited Korean workers.
In Type 2 (September 1942 to September 1944), the colonial government assumed administrative responsibilities in recruiting any number of workers assigned per each city or county, apportioning them among private corporations that had requested them. Although handled through the governor-general’s office, these recruits had the freedom of turning down the workplace or the type of work offered them.
Type 3 was full-fledged conscription invoked between September 1944 and March 1945.
None of the quartet was conscripted, however. They were all recruited. Two of the plaintiffs, replying to an ad, applied as factory hands at the Pyongyang works of Nippon Steel in September 1943. After passing interviews, they headed for Japan, escorted by recruiters to the firm’s Osaka factory, where they began work as trainees.
The third Korean joined the “patriotic labor corps” through the recommendation of the mayor of Daejeon City, later responding to a recruitment ad by Nippon Steel. He was also escorted to Japan by a corporate recruiter, and became a factory worker at Kamaishi Steelworks in northern Japan.
The fourth worker, following a directive from Gunsan County (now Gunsan City, southwestern Korea), answered a Nippon Steel recruitment ad, traveled to Japan with a recruiter, and became a factory hand at Yahata Steelworks in Kyushu.
In other words, each of the quartet voluntarily applied for recruitment ads run by Japanese corporations and traveled to Japan under formal contract. They were generally treated well in Japan, as a labor shortage was becoming increasingly marked with more and more Japanese males drafted to fight Japan’s war in Asia.
Going over the voluminous Korean-language judgment concerning the lawsuit, Professor Tsutomu Nishioka managed to learn that the quartet actually had not been conscripted. Nishioka is a leading Korea expert and an able researcher for the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, a privately financed think tank I founded in 2007.
Common sense in Japan dictates that the decision by South Korea’s top court is null and void because it is based on incorrect facts. Apparently, South Koreans do not see it that way. With the Korean side adamantly maintaining that all three types of recruitment conducted in wartime Korea were coercive, Tokyo finds it extremely difficult to communicate with Seoul concerning this point.
Absolutely No Compromise Necessary with Seoul
It was very important that Prime Minister Abe clarified this point at the Diet shortly after the ruling, not allowing the Moon Jae-in administration to get away with this attempted use of smoke and mirrors to make false claims against Japan.
The ongoing situation in South Korean education, military, judiciary, and foreign affairs under the Moon administration would be unthinkable for an ordinary democracy governed by law. The series of arbitrary actions against Japan only make sense when one views South Korea as a nation that is in the midst of abandoning democracy and moving toward socialist revolution.
Revolutionary forces discard everything about the existing order like scraps of paper. Treaties, contracts, the accepted norms about everything—it makes no difference. In point of fact, that is exactly what the Moon administration is doing as regards Japan. Moon has pinned an unjust ruling on Japan in an attempt to grab huge funds in compensation, clearly showing his contempt for our country.
Hong asserts that as head of a revolutionary administration Moon is forcing a pro-Pyongyang socialist revolution on the majority of South Koreans—in the same way that he is irrationally attacking Japan.
Across South Korea, a growing number of thinking citizens are sending clear signals of protest against the incumbent administration. Explained Hong:
“Recently, the Korean Generals and Admirals Association warned Moon to stop his conciliatory policies towards the North. On September 21, a group of 3,000 South Korean civilians brought an accusation of aiding and abetting the enemy against Moon. It is a serious charge; if found guilty, Moon could be condemned to death.
“Also, retired South Korean ambassadors have issued a joint statement calling for Moon’s impeachment on the grounds that he has seriously trampled on South Korea’s security framework. At first, 30 former envoys joined in the campaign, but their number has steadily grown to 50. Even these former diplomats, generally considered weak-kneed about such things, are now standing up to voice their opposition to Moon’s government. I wonder why the Japanese media have failed to cover so important a happening.”
Because the issue of “wartime Korean conscripted laborers” must be viewed in proper perspective as Hong emphasizes, Tokyo must make no compromise whatever with Moon’s revolutionary administration. Simultaneously, Japan must formulate effective measures as soon as possible to enhance its resources, including revising its “peace” constitution, bearing in mind the possibility that South Korea could become a hostile neighbor in the not too distant future.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 827 in the November 15, 2018 issue of The Weekly Shincho)