I had heard there was a trade war going on, but I hadn’t written anything on my blog about it because I didn’t have the specifics. However, I have some specifics to give you from a Japanese point of view now. Part of the way down this list, a lot of the information comes from another internet site written by a Japanese named Miyu Takahashi, but it also has a lot of my comments mixed in.For a long time, there has been animosity between Japan and S. Korea. Before I ever came to S. Korea, fourteen years ago, I had heard that the Koreans didn’t like the Japanese. It is something passed down to them from the grandparents because the Japanese occupied Korea and tried to force them to become Japanese. I have actually had discussions with my students trying to get them to leave the past in the past. However, I can’t talk down all of Korea.
There have been problems between Japan and S. Korea over several issues like the comfort women during the war. Japan forced Korean women to become prostitutes for their soldiers during WW2, and Korea has been upset about it ever since. The Japanese government has issued formal apologies and tried to give money to S. Korea to help with the problem, but these women are dead now. It doesn’t matter, though, because there are S. Koreans still trying to cause trouble about it.
There has also been a dispute between Japan and S. Korea since I came to S. Korea over an island named Dok-do. It is in the sea between Japan and S. Korea, and both countries have tried to claim it for themselves.
The rest of the world calls the body of water between S. Korea and Japan, the Japan Sea, but S. Koreans refuse to call it that. They call it the East Sea.
There is prejudice passed down to the S. Koreans from their grandparents toward Japan, and I have seen it. The S. Koreans just can’t seem to let go of the problems of the past, but keep bringing them into the present and causing them to continue or get bigger. The S. Koreans are not the only prejudice ones. I have seen it from some older Japanese too.
This is where I begin telling you what the Japanese, Miyu Takahashi, has to say: “S. Korea accused Japan for wartime laborers” I am not sure what that means, but perhaps they are referring to the comfort women as well as the Japanese treating other Koreans badly during the occupation also. (If it is just over treating workers badly, a lot of foreign workers are being treated badly right now in S. Korea. There are farm laborers living in semi truck trailers that are like tin boxes without indoor plumbing or electricity. There are foreign teachers being forced to teach 12 hours a day and live in tiny one room apartments and only paid a small salary. Korea needs to think about these kinds of things too.)
Japan fought back and restricted exports to S. Korea.
Korea pushed back by making the Japanese companies pay money to the Korean workers they had treated badly, but most of those workers are already dead.
Japan retaliates by removing South Korea from the list of trusted countries they will export to. (Oh, come on! Are they babies?)
S. Korea retaliates by putting a boycott on Japanese goods. There were also demonstrations and a S. Korean man burning himself in front of the Japanese embassy. (Who in their right might would burn themselves? Logic tells you your are just making your own life worse.)
Japan proposed an arbitrator.
S. Korea declined the arbitrator and proposed instead joint funding to the victims.
The Japanese foreign minister admonished the Japanese ambassador to Japan over the S. Korean government’s positions. (Is admonishing what he really needed, Japanese foreign minister? There must be a better way than telling him off if you want to get along!)
Public opinion in both countries supported a tougher stance against the other country. (Getting tough only causes trouble. )
Japan vows to retaliate in visas and tariffs. The Japanese government is also thinking about sanctions against S. Korea (If there are no imports and exports going back and fort, what good is a tariff?) .The S. Korean President Moon met with S. Korean business leaders encouraging them to proceed without Japan. (You deal with the situation that is handed to you.)
The United States had declined to intervene, but they are now saying that President Trump says he will mediate. (President Trump is known as a good negotiator, and they really need some negotiating.)
There you have it. Two countries are squabbling like children. No one wants it to escalate until something worse happens. The problems of the past are effecting the present. S. Korea needs to learn to get over what happened during the occupation. Japan needs to realize they really did cause a lot of trouble and are getting what they deserve, but it is their grandparents who made the trouble, not them. S. Korea is supposed to be close to 50% Christian, and Christians forgive because they were forgiven. The S. Korean government is jam packed with Presbyterians. Japan has Buddhism, and Buddhism teaches Karma. They are receiving Karma for what the ones who came before them did. They need to understand that pushing will only make it worse, and they could cause themselves or their children to get even worse Karma. If you meet a Japanese or a Korean person, they are both very nice people one on one, so they need to give one another a chance on a larger scale. The governments are acting like children. Now, they want to call their daddy, President Trump, to help them sort their problem out. Aren’t they adults? Can’t someone be the bigger person here? Can’t forgiveness for past sins take place? Don’t drag the sins into the present and push them into the future and continue causing trouble about them. In America, those of us whose grandparents grew up in Indian Territory are not bitter. Everyone knows that a lot of bad things happened to the American Indians in their own land, but they have gotten over it. They understand that the way of peace is better. Korea and Japan also need to learn to get over the past for their children’s sake because the way of peace is better.