Posted on May 28, 2010
In 1941, the Pearl Harbor attack on the United States by the Japanese gave Americans an inconsolable anger. How vengeful they must have felt, to even plan a Japanese-American extermination program, in order to “drain every last drop of Japanese blood from the United States”? Only 70 years have passed since then. Japan had completely lost after 5 years of Pacific War, and the Asia-Pacific area had welcomed the age of United States.
The moment Emperor Hirohito of Japan knelt before General McArthur, he was already deliberating cowardly ways to survive. It has been said that after he had reached the decision to face McArthur, for 17 hours he knelt in the tatami-floored room with the Sword of the Imperial Family held close to his heart, quietly assuring himself, “We will try again in 100 years”. As he was surrendering, Hirohito had had an insight into McArthur’s mind.
The object of the United States was to install a large US army base in Japan. McArthur had meant to take advantage of the Imperial family’s authority and power, and Hirohito in turn fully utilized McArthur. By voluntarily ‘cooperating’ with McArthur (and the US), he had saved himself, in spite of being a war criminal and the leader of a defeated nation, and the Emperor system. Out of this deal, the United States had gotten a sizeable US army base, and in Japan, the war criminals returned to power. Afterwards, the authorities of Japan became absolutely obedient to the United States, and in turn, the United States allowed Japan’s war crimes to go unpunished.
In July 2008, for the first time after the war, the United States publicly criticized Japan’s war crimes by passing the U.S. House Resolution 121 (Resolution on “comfort women”). This Resolution shook the post-war US-Japan relations to its foundation. For this reason, the 60-year authority of the war criminals (Liberal Democratic Party) crumbled. On August 18th 2008 at the presentation of his honorary doctorate degree at KangWon University of Korea, the pacifist Japanese-American Congressman Mike Honda, he said “The Resolution on “comfort women” that was passed in the Congress in 2007 led Japan to a way of peace, and the authority of the war criminals of Japan fell.”
The new authority of Japan that are represented by ‘Ozawa’ and ‘Hatoyama’ insists not on the Japanese government taking responsibility for its war crimes but rather that Japan should break away from the shadow of the US and display its capability in the international world. This is the current situation of the troubled US-Japan relations.
This newly surfaced conflict and discord between the US and Japan is not confined to just the two involved countries but the neighboring countries are feeling the muted effects of it as well. The diplomatic think tanks of the new ruling class of Japan busily frequent the Capitol Hill in Washington DC. They are occupied with meeting those in charge of funds, national security, and those in charge of Asia/Pacific Relations in the Foreign Relations Committee, promoting the position of the Japanese government renewing the relationship between the US and Japan. They are showing their willingness to yield what they have to but in return adamantly demand and take what they deserve.
That is why the problem of “Dokdo Island” in the United States is such a nuisance. It is not pleasant to bring up a problem between Japan and Korea in the United States, nor is it easy. Since when did the US pursue the truth and judge whose claim is more just? Is there anyone who does not know that whichever claim that is more convenient and advantageous to the US is the position it takes?
In 2008, a controversy over the naming of the Dokdo Island arose in the Library of Congress and the United States Board on Geographic Names. Since the name of the island is Korean and it is under territorial dispute with Japan, they insisted on applying the position of the United States (Neutrality) and changing the name to Liancourt Rocks, a name neither Korean nor Japanese.
Korean-Americans flocked to the Congress, thus narrowly stopping the re-naming and preserving the island’s original name. The reason why the Library of Congress and the United States Board on Geographic Names set out to rename the island was because a librarian in the Library of Congress saw the full-page advertisement of “Dokdo Island is Our Land” published in the New York Times and understood it to be an area of territorial dispute. We came so close to creating a big problem by provoking the issue. As a person who has experienced the power of Japan in the Washington politics, I am still deeply troubled by the Dokdo Island dispute.
The reason for this provocation is that some professor from Korea, backed by popularity of the Korean public, keeps publishing advertisements in the mainstream media in the United States. And whenever he publishes a full-page advertisement in the 16th page of New York Times, the Korean media widely report it in Korea that such an advertisement appeared in a mainstream periodical in the US. The advertisement in the US is prone to being misunderstood as an advertisement targeting Korea.
The Japanese influences in Washington politics is described as “water seeping into a sponge’. Experts in Washington even describe the Japanese influence as ‘the invisible atomic bomb’. Japan never strikes first politically. No one knows what they are doing until the background operations in the periphery have matured. In Japan, the government, companies and private organizations (cultural and arts) soundlessly and voluntarily cooperate. Japan is using the tactic of making Dokdo Island a disputed island without even taking any measures, and we must not get caught up in that tactic.
They pour their efforts into the operations on the side until Dokdo Island becomes a disputed area. Until then they dig into the grassroots of the academic, publishing, cultural, artistic, and educational world. Their method differs from that of ours, which is to make a great fuss through the mainstream media without any preparations whatsoever.
It has been said that a billboard with the advertisement for “Dokdo Island is Our Land” is to be installed in Manhattan. I just wanted to voice my opinion that in order to achieve our goal, we must make strategic decisions. I just got so frustrated that I had to tell the civil society of Korea to be aware of the Japan inside the US. Isn’t this something that only a Korean-American can do?