Japanese author Naoki Hyakuta has just published a new book, Now is the Time to Apologize to South Korea, Then Say Farewell.
This paperback book, which came out on March 1 from Asukashinsha Publishing, is already a bestseller in Japan. Why has it achieved such popularity while the relationship between Japan and South Korea continues to sour?
This pocket book achieved good sales quickly, reaching number two on the bestseller list by March 2, a day after it came out, according to a search at the Yaesu Book Center’s parent store.
On Amazon Japan’s book review site, the book has maintained its top position in the category of South and North Korean geographic and regional studies as of Sunday, March 24.
This book follows Hyakuta’s earlier volume on the subject, Now is the Time to Apologize to South Korea, also published by Asukashinsha Publishing in June 2017. Two years later, his new book points out that Koreans did not ask for modernization of the Korean peninsula by the Japanese government during the time of Japan’s annexation of Korea. Mr. Hyakuta calls it “extensive backseat driving,” and the Japanese should “apologize for that.”
He exposits examples of “backseat driving” by the then-governor general of Korea, such as construction of railways, improvement of roadways, dam building, and the diffusion of education throughout the country, among other development policies carried out during the annexation years.
This new pocket book also touches on current areas of friction, including recent developments concerning the comfort women issue, requisitions made of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan by the chairman of South Korea’s Congress on the issue of Korean women who were so-called comfort women, and the South Korean Navy’s radar lock-on of Japanese Self-Defense Force aircraft. In explaining his thesis concerning these disputes, he brings up the point, “the major cause is South Korea’s lying.”
At the same time, he says, “Japan is responsible.” This is because, as he emphasizes, in spite of Japan’s 35-year-annexation of the peninsula, Japan never taught Koreans the morals of what is important to become responsible citizens.
Moreover, in spite of South Korea’s repeated lying since its independence, the Japanese government has not scolded or corrected South Korea. This, he says, again demonstrates “the Japanese government’s accountability.”
Amazon Japan’s website selling the pocket book includes many comments on various aspects from readers. Here are a few of them:
“I can comprehend very well how much Japanese ancestors had taken efforts for the Korean peninsula and South and North Koreans.” This kind of feedback that shows understanding of issues surpasses 100 entries.
“You would ridicule sarcastic writing by Mr. Hyakuta. However, for Korea watchers, there is nothing new but already-known things.” This commentator evaluated the book as a three on the five-star scale, dropping in such neutral feedback.
Customer reviews of the book on the Amazon site’s five-star scale, as of Sunday, March 24, ranged in distribution as follows: five stars – 85%, four stars – 9%, three stars – 3%, two stars – 0% and one star – 3%.
As the relationship between Japan and South Korea worsens, there is no small number of people who pick up the hottest book to deepen their understanding of both countries and their relationship, or to seek answers as to why Japan is repeatedly required to apologize to South Korea.
Mr. Hyakuta notes in the book’s “Afterword” that he is considering whether to make translations into both English and Korean (Hangul). If he does, he suggests he may upload those onto free websites.
Author: Mizuki Okada