Monday, September 13, 2010

US role crucial in Northeast Asian reconciliation

The Korea Times published an op-ed written by Shin Gi-wook, a professor at Stanford, on September 13, 2010. To this day, World War II remains a dividing line between Korea, China, and Japan. According to Shin, in order for those countries to reconcile with one another, America needs to be involved in the reconciliation process. After all, America was “deeply involved” in the “problems of history” of Northeast Asia. As part of the reconciliation process, Shin argued that President Obama should visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki. In response to his idea, I wrote the following in INDB.
America was involved in the problems of East Asia. Going to Hiroshima will not solve them. All it would do is stir up nationalism on all sides. That visit to Hiroshima by John Roos really didn't move forward relations one bit. That apology by Kan to South Korea really didn't move relations forward one bit. One of the problems of doing these things is that people claim that the actions are insincere. And in many ways these people are right. One of the reasons why these actions are insincere is because the people apologizing don't feel responsible for those prior actions. And they have good reason not to feel responsible. They didn't do it. People long since dead made the decisions that cost so many lives. The other reason these actions are insincere is because essentially no one - myself included - understands exactly what went on. No one understands why the various actors did what they did. In that context, any apology or action has to necessarily be insincere. What would really be helpful is for a more honest, public discussion of exactly what when on before the war, during the war, and after the war. I think this would lead to better decision making in the future and it would also lead to reconciliation. It would show that the idea of an East Asian Community has been something long sought for and worked for by all sides - Korea, Japan, and China. This would help improve relations between the three countries. It would, for instance, explain the actions of Junichiro Koizumi and show that what he did was vital to the emergence of East Asia and very much in the interests of South Korea and China.
I believe someone from Japan “helped” me write this response.

No comments: