Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

An Impermissible Racial Slur Shown by Korean Soccer Fans
HANABUSA Masamichi  / Honorary Chairman of the ESUJ

July 30, 2013
I watched on TV the recent soccer match for the East Asian Cup between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Seoul. The players of the both Japanese and Korean teams showed a high level of sportsmanship. Next morning I learned from newspapers that some Korean supporters displayed a large banner saying in the Korean language "There is no future for a nation that forgets history" as well as a portrait of An Chung-gun, who assassinated the then foremost Japanese statesman, Hirofumi Ito in 1909. The demonstrations obviously imply that Japan has no future. Whether these acts are in violation of the FIFA rules, I have been sadly surprised by the nearly total absence of opinions disapproving such behaviors in the Korean society. Frankly I would like to advise the Korean friends to calm down for a moment in order to consider the meaning of the relations with its neighboring country, telling them "Don't get so excited whenever Japan comes into question."

It is not my intention to preach about history here, but, as is often pointed out, history is, in my view, the past as interpreted by the present based on the present standpoint. Such past, i.e. history may vary with times and standpoints. History of Rome, for example, written by distinguished writers reflects the spirit of the times lived by the authors. When slavery is permitted, no one would have criticized the glorious Greek civilization as based on slavery. Even contemporary happenings are viewed differently by peoples under different civilization and regime; the Korean War and 9:11 Incident are recent cases in point. Koreans may well think of An Chung-gun as a national hero, but very few in Japan could agree to the view; in our view, he was definitely a terrorist. As the Japanese and Koreans address the past from entirely different standpoints, it would be most unlikely for them to have a common recognition of history, unless, like in Europe, the two nations come to share common values. Therefore, it is not revisionist but wise and future-oriented for politicians to say "History should be left for the future historians."

From this viewpoint, it is beside the point for the Koreans to claim if the Japanese do not face the past squarely or even we forget history. Because, by saying so, they simply urge the Japanese to come to concur in their historical judgments. I do wonder if this is, universally or historically, a very rare phenomenon where one nation urges another to accept the former' s historical viewpoint and, when refused, slanders the latter as 'forgetting history.' If a nation is incapable of thinking things relatively, it is unfortunate for the nation. When the Koreans continue such indiscreet behaviors and the Japanese let them pass without objecting to them, the rest of the world might think probably there is a degree of legitimacy on the Korean side. This augurs ill for Japan. Hence I am writing this article to register our clear objection to the Korean slanderings.

I am inclined to think that at the time of establishing bilateral relations with the ROK in 1965, Japan faithfully responded to the serious mistake committed by Japan to dominate and Japanize Korea for 36 years. Since then, for nearly 70 years, in spite of the 'Takeshima issue', the Japanese Government has never been unfriendly to the ROK. Rather it extended substantial economic cooperation and financial collaboration to the ROK. Being cognizant of the sensitive national grudge against Japan transcending logic, the Japanese government has paid due attention to Korean sentiments even with regard to the contents of history textbooks, though education is an important domestic affair. I believe such is a rough sketch of the history, as seen by the average Japanese, of post-war relations between Japan and the ROK. In a word, during the passage of immediate past 68 years that nearly doubles the duration of the time Japan dominated Korea, Japan tried to make amends for the 'unfortunate past' and presently takes no hostile actions, economic, political, military or otherwise, against the Korean people. With possible exception of the immediate post-war periods, it is beyond comprehension of the Japanese why the Koreans, as a responsible nation, wish to remain so hostile against Japan, its important neighbor. From the viewpoint of building a sound bilateral relationship between the two countries, it is without doubt unproductive to stir up unnecessary nationalistic sentiment arising from historical recognition, especially in the sports arena, where future-bearing youths are expected to show their immaculate vigor.

Masamichi Hanabusa is former Japanese Ambassador to Italy.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

英 正道  / 日本英語交流連盟 名誉会長

2013年 7月 30日


この観点に立てば、日本人が歴史を直視していないとか、忘れているかなどを他国人が云々するのは的外れである。何故ならこのケースでは彼らは日本人が韓国人と同じように歴史を見ていないと非難しているからである。他国民に自己の歴史観への同調を迫リ、これに応じない国民を「歴史を忘れている」と貶めるという状況は、古今東西を通じて稀であろう。もし一つの国民が相対的な視野を持って物事を見れないとすれば、これはその国民にとって不幸であると言わざるを得ない。しかし韓国人がこのような無分別を犯し続け、日本人がこれを許容し続けるなら、世界はそこには何らかの正当性があると思うかも知れない。 日本にとってこのことがより危険である。私がこの稿を認めるのは韓国人の無分別さに異義を唱える必要があると思ったからである。

日本が韓国を36年にわたり支配し、同化させようという間違いを犯したことについては、1965年日本は日韓国交正常化に当たって誠実に対応した。爾来70年にわたり、「竹島問題」の存在にも拘わらず、日本政府は韓国に対して一切非友好的なことはしていない。むしろ経済協力や金融協力面で多大の支援を行なってきた。理屈を越えた韓国人の日本への民族的な怨念も理解しているので、教科書という重要な内政問題である教育面でも隣国の心情に配慮してきた。これが戦後の日韓両国関係の歴史の大筋であると思う。日本は韓国支配の時期に倍する直近の歴史の中で、不幸な過去を清算することに努力した積もりだ し、現在も日本政府は政治的、経済的、軍事的に韓国を脅かす行動は一切取っていないと信じている。


一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > An Impermissible Racial Slur Shown by Korean Soccer Fans