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Friday, September 28, 2012

KOREA FACTS: L'Express Dokdo Article by Pascal Dayez-Burgeon


프랑스 렉스프레스 독도 기사


Pascal Dayez-Burgeon, Deputy Director of the Institute of Communication Sciences of the CNRS, recently contributed an article to L'Express, covering the recent disputes over the Dokdo sovereignty. I translated the article 'cause I thought it's a great read for those who don't know much about Asian/world history. The translation was done with help of Google Translator and based on my very limited knowledge of French I had acquired during the last two years of my college, a long, long time ago. Thus, you'll find many errors/mistakes in my translation and please let me know if you find any. (Note that my footnotes and elaborations are parenthesized.)


Japan-South Korea: "A Past That Does Not Pass"

Written by Pascal Dayez-Burgeon (9/27/2012)
Translated by ONSEMIRO
(Link to the original L'Express article)


Both countries oppose (each other's) sovereignty over some islets in the South China Sea (I think L'Express meant to say "the East Sea"). The specialist of the region Pascal Dayez-Burgeon sees "provocation" above all things. As he sees it, the Japanese government uses this conflict to "divert the (people's) attention from the environmental concerns" after Fukushima.


Dokdo - Japan claims the sovereignty over these volcanic islets currently held by South Korea. 
Pascal Dayez-Burgeon, Deputy Director of the Institute of Communication Sciences 
of the CNRS, sees "provocation."   Reuters / Korea Pool / Newsis



















Do you know Dokdo? Before, except for the specialized geographers or the champions of the 1000 Euro games, no French people would have been able to answer such a question. But from this summer, (they) know (what it is).

Located in the middle of the sea surrounding the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago, Dokdo is the volcanic islets of Korea over which Tokyo claims the sovereignty. To confirm that there is no question, South Korean President LMB made a highly publicized visit (to the islets) at the end of August, which incurred the anger of the Japanese nationalists. And for a few hours (after his visit), the two countries had been at loggerheads.

(Is it) Picrochole's quarrel (with the King Grandgousier) or Asian Clochemerle? We'll see: What if Germany, which had occupied France for four years, claimed/annexed Ouessant Island or Ré Island that has always belonged to France? We would not appreciate/accept (it). Roughly speaking, it is the same for the Koreans who can hardly tolerate Japan which still has its eye on even a tiny part of their territory after having colonized the country for nearly 40 years (1910-1945). (And we) can understand (them).

Of course, there is no shortage of explanations for the matter. Dokdo has an economic and strategic interest/advantage that has not escaped Japan and Tokyo is leveraging some legal loopholes to try its luck. Especially, however, the widely discredited Japanese authorities since the Fukushima disaster, without admitting it, see it absolutely favorable for them to stir up nationalistic tensions: they divert the (people's) attention from the environmental concerns.

A Much Deeper Problem

A few weeks after (Lee's visit to) Dokdo, Japan has also opened up a new front along the Diaoyo Archipelago located not far from Taiwan, to the chagrin of Beijing. When people insult (one another), they become oblivious to their real problems.

But when we take a closer look, the problem is much more profound. The wounds of (Japanese) occupation still remain unhealed, (unsolved) between Korea and Japan. Certainly, the division of the (Korean) Peninsula, the forced deportation of the Koreans to the imperial army against their will, or the trafficking of the (Korean) girls to use them as "comfort women" (i.e., sex slaves) for Japanese soldiers were financially compensated. And the Japanese officials, including the King, even expressed their deep regret. However, unlike what Germany did about the Holocaust, Tokyo has never assumed full responsibility for their wrongdoings toward the Korean people.

Nationalism, racism, imperialism in disguise? The question is not so much to explain the Japanese attitude that observes the consequences. In the medium term, their calculation could appear profitable. In refusing to admit to the accusations Korea makes, Japan has kept the upper hand on it.

Cynicism That May Be Harmful

For the economic or political reasons, Tokyo issues empty apologies when necessary. When the (public) opinion is to the contrary, (all they have to do is) step backward while provoking Korea (instead). For this is what it really is about Dokdo: Provocation. It's hard to imagine that Japan would start a war over the islets. Tokyo also has other means of provocation: Insulting the comfort women (i.e., sex slaves), claiming that the East Sea where Dokdo is located should be called the "Sea of ​​Japan," or rendering honors to the soldiers of the colonial Japan.

In the longer term, however, this cynicism may be harmful. For half a century, the Korean people had kept their eyes veiled: A number of them, especially in the sectors including economy, had collaborated with the Japanese occupying (Korea), but no one mentioned it. The honor to finally burst the abscess went to President Roh Moo-hyun (2002-2007). From 2004 through 2005, the issue of collaboration (with Japan) was publicly asked, the main culprits were identified even though most of them are (already) dead, and some of their assets were seized. By engaging in this mea culpa (a Latin phrase that translates to "my mistake" or "my own fault"), Seoul helped settle this dispute (within) and progress towards national reconciliation. (Well, as it is, the late Roh's efforts went down the drain.)

Japan prefers to keep silence. Admit nothing, explain nothing. Is it a good bet? (It) is doubtful. Certainly, the realpolitik is compatible with the business as Japan, Korea, and China are the leading trading partners. But only to a certain extent. (The price of) the flames of nationalism is expensive in terms of (economic) growth. Moreover, they prevent the (Northeast Asian) area from advancing on the path of the European economic cooperation. Without Franco-German reconciliation, there would be no Europe. Without reconciliation with Japan, how could there be an Integrated Northeast Asia?  Dokdo, is it worth the effort?


Related Posts: 
KBS's "Overnight Trips" Goes to the Dokdo Islets of Korea                     
Korean Independence Day (aka, Korean Liberation Day)
Dr Jean-Pierre Lehmann's Financial Times Article "Japan’s Not Ready To Be a Reliable Ally"

2 comments:

  1. Cool blog. I have become fascinated by South Korean television shows, subtitled online of course.

    I also noticed that my blog has absolutely never had a South Korean visitor. Ever. Which I found depressing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Poor Guy, I'm sorry to hear that. I was wondering what you're blogging about?

    ReplyDelete

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