(Last of 2 Parts)
When South Korea and Japan are juxtaposed in the news, it is almost always in a negative context. However, this view ignores many facts and the perspectives of a significant number of grassroots Japanese and South Koreans.
In the interview excerpts below, South Korean opinion leader and chief spokesman for international affairs of the Our Republican Party of South Korea, talks about his concerns over the revival of cold-war perspectives and threats to democratic institutions and individual rights in South Korea. Hanjin Lew also talks about the significance of South Korea and Japan standing together as the two mature democracies in Asia.
Moon’s predecessor was Park Geun Hye, who was convicted in what many believe to be a show trial. Park is now in prison in South Korea. Does the Our Republican Party have a position on this?
The Our Republican Party calls for the immediate release of the innocent President Park Geun Hye. She was unconstitutionally impeached because she fought to defend the Constitution of South Korea based on liberal democracy and strove to free South Korea from totalitarianism.
President Park made Korea’s communist teachers’ union an illegal entity and dissolved a communist political party — the first time a communist political party was dissolved in South Korean history.
On October 1, 2016, the Armed Forces Day, President Park made a landmark speech toward North Koreans, saying, “Please come to the bosom of freedom in the South.”
President Park understood the mechanisms of a fear society — that when escape is an option, control by fear no longer works. This is exactly what happened with Soviet Refuseniks who were allowed to leave, facilitating the demise of the USSR. President Park’s speech infuriated the North Korean leadership, who urged communists in South Korea to remove her from her presidency.
Just as we must come to an understanding of the inherent link between human rights and national security, we must also realize the link between freeing president Park and safeguarding the freedom of South Korea and Northeast Asia.
The impeachment of president Park was an attempt by totalitarian forces in North Korea and China to subvert the political system of South Korea. And we are fighting to stop this.
Many critics of conservatives in South Korea label Republic of Korea conservatives as “pro-Japan,” often using it as insulting language, or using more insulting language than this. How does the Our Republican Party respond to such charges?
South Korean conservatives cherish Japan as our most important friend and neighbor. I think that when South Korean leftists attack conservatives as being “pro-Japan,” it indicates a form of inferiority complex against Japan. They see Japan as an enemy. We see Japan as our friend and partner.
Meanwhile, China is threatening the global order. There is simply no time or need for animosity against Japan. Japan and South Korea, the two mature democratic nations of Asia, must work together to fight off our common enemy.
While there are benefits for Japan as well if the 1965 treaty is honored, this is not why we insist on adherence to the 1965 treaty. We are doing it for us, the Koreans. And for our future generations, so that our children and children’s children may live without having to carry the burdens of history.
It is important to remember and to learn from the past, but it is harmful when you get tied down by it. It ends up consuming all your energy and becoming the center of your life.
Some of the Japanese people that I meet have found it hard to believe that there is a political party in South Korea that is openly friendly towards Japan. It amuses me when they ask me whether the Our Republican Party’s stance is real or a pretense (honne or tatemae).
I convince them of our sincerity with a simple answer: my wife is Japanese and my son is both Japanese and Korean.
On January 12, 2020, our party publicly introduced Mr. Han Minho as our first recruit to the party. A highly-regarded bureaucrat in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr. Han is famous for his comment “[South Koreans] being pro-Japan is being a patriot [for South Korea].”
He was fired for criticizing Moon Jae In on October 2, 2019.
Does President Moon benefit from or use anti-Japanism for political advantage?
Moon Jae In has been using Japan as South Korea’s external enemy in order to bury his policy failures and unite the people.
And South Korean leftists have been using the concept of victimhood against Japan for their own political gains.
More importantly, North Korea and China’s totalitarian forces are behind the incitement of anti-Japanese sentiment. Totalitarian forces of China, North Korea, and South Korea are conspiring to separate South Korea from free nations of the world and to include it among totalitarian nations. And they find anti-Japanese sentiment the most effective means to accomplish this.
How do you view the so-called “history wars” between Japan and South Korea?
Professor Tsutomu Nishioka argues that the Japanese and South Koreans do not need to share the same view on history. Rather, the important thing is for the two countries to agree to disagree — that it is okay to have differing views on history. I agree with this.
Professor Lee Young-hoon’s new book, Anti-Japan Tribalism (Bungeishunju, 2019, in Japanese) sheds light on the facts regarding war crimes during the Japanese colonial period. We need to re-examine and discern facts from myths.
It is important to note that the leftists in both Japan and South Korea have conspired together to distort facts and create the anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea that seriously harms the relationship between the two countries. A history grounded in solid facts provides a good basis for building ties.
Do you have any final thoughts?
In 1950, one of the fundamental U.S. Cold War policy documents stated that their enemy held a “new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own” and was determined to impose its “absolute authority over the rest of the world.”
The stakes in the struggle were existential: “The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself.”
Seventy years on, a fight of the same nature has resumed.
The proponents of totalitarianism say that there is no such thing as human dignity, individual sovereignty, freedom to choose, freedom to take responsibility. They say that we are no different from machines. Let us prove otherwise.
This fight is not one that South Korea alone, Japan alone, or America alone can fight and win. Let us restore sovereignty to where it belongs — to the person.
- South Korea Ramps Up Anti-Japan Propaganda Ahead of 2020 Tokyo Olympics
- Abe to Moon: South Korean Plant Emits More Radioactive Substances Than Treated Water at Fukushima
- EDITORIAL | It’s Time to Put Japan-U.S.-South Korea Cooperation on a Firmer Footing
- The First Step Towards Normal Relations is Removing Japan’s Special Treatment of South Korea
- At the Crossroads: Can South Korea Survive Without Japan?
- When Some Korean Intellectuals Exaggerate, Distort History with Japan
Interview by: Jason Morgan