Japanese Politician ‘Vandalises’ Comfort Women Statue

The comfort women memorial statue near the Comfort Women Museum in Seoul.

The Dokdo/Takeshima and comfort women issues are very sensitive topics in Korea. Korea claims that Japan refuses to formally apologize or has not done enough to apologize for its wartime atrocities, one of which is the use of comfort women, and both sides dispute each others’ claims to the Liancourt Rocks, known as “Dokdo” in Korea and “Takeshima” in Japan.

song was spawned on the Korean side in regards to the islands, and a foreign professor who taught at a Korean university was fired for blogging about Dokdo/Takeshima and questioning Korea’s claim to the island. Some Koreans have protested the island issue by eating Japanese flags, slicing off their fingers, beating birds to death with hammers on top of Japanese flags, stabbing themselves in the gut, throwing cement at Japanese ambassadors, covering themselves with thousands of bees, and setting themselves on fire. For Chinese netizen reactions to such fits of passion, head over to our sister site chinaSMACK.

A Japanese right-wing politician named Nobuyuki Suzuki recently caused outrage in Korea when he erected a post next to the comfort women statue by the War & Women’s Human Rights Museum in Mapo-gu, Seoul. After putting up the post, he apparently tried to tie the post around the statue and took pictures and shot video of it, later uploading it to Youtube and his personal blog. (Police later removed the post.)

From YouTube:

He also referred to the comfort women as “prostitutes” and the statues and memorials dedicated them as “prostitute monuments”. Japan has protested the erection of similar monuments before – seemingly no matter where they are in the world.

In an effort to offend as many Koreans as possible, he also added the Dokdo issue into the mix by writing (in Korean) on the post “Takeshima is Japanese land”:

A Japanese politician defaces a statue dedicated to Korean comfort women

Dokdo, and its surrounding sea, is something koreaBANG has touched on before, so much so that a US-based communications company contacted us on behalf of the South Korean consulate asking us if we would post a follow up article about the East Sea/Sea of Japan naming dispute.

But what’s the real story? The name of the sea or the fact that the government is employing communications firms to pester the press about territorial naming conventions? This comes at a time when South Korea is working hard on an “East Sea” PR campaign, as the below advert, which is circulating in many major publications, shows:

East Sea or Sea of Japan? Or is it the Indian Ocean? Or a lake!? Or a pond!?

An anchor on SBS‘ TV show “News At 8″ recently took Japan and Suzuki to task on the Dokdo and comfort women issues.

From Nate:

Broadcaster Park Sun-young: “There Is No Takeshima Island In This World Or On The Map”

Park Sun-young , an anchorwoman on SBS’ “News At 8”, took a shot at Japanese right-wing groups in her closing segment.

On the 22nd, Park, on SBS’ “News At 8”, said, “While they are placing a big stake next to the Comfort Women Statue, Japan cannot find Takeshima Island on a map. There is, however, a Dokdo.”

She continued, “However, the Japanese did not make up [their claim to] Takeshima Island overnight or in a day. We cannot let our anger get the best of us, and we must prepare a logical and systematic approach to preserve history.”

Sometime earlier, a Japanese right-wing politician, Nobuyuki Suzuki, aroused controversy when he visited the Comfort Women Peace Museum and put a sign up saying Dokdo is Japanese land. He returned to Japan after committing such atrocities and boasted of his actions via the Internet, causing righteous indignation among netizens.

SBS anchors on SBS' evening show "News at 8"

Park Sun-young (R)

Comments from Nate:

안현탁:

A newscaster speaking frankly to assert herself…she’s got my respect.

최정윤:

She spoke very emphatically. Well done.

배경열:

Park Sun-young is now the number one newscaster in Korea.

노경한:

We also need to properly and logically educate people about Dokdo using our history books. [Likely in reference to the Japanese textbook controversies]

오수민:

The map itself is evidence to us [that Dokdo is ours]!! [Japan] is robbing us…learning about how to deal with the Japanese would be the most important foundation. Don’t ignore continuous provocation!! We need to ban the sale of the iPhone 5 not just in Korea but other countries as well when it does not correctly mark Dokdo on its map!!

윤수민:

Oh ho…it is a good thing that we have this kind of broadcaster.

장현지:

I suddenly thought of Huh Jun-ho…there is a famous story that a Japanese reporter asked him what he thought of Dokdo and he suddenly took away the reporter’s pen…and asked how the reporter felt about it…ke ke ke

배경열:

There are SO MANY Japanese who even don’t know the location of Dokdo. In fact, most Japanese I meet think of Dokdo as simply disputed territory [between the two countries] and don’t even know where it is. These Japanese fools need to self-reflect -_- Go to Dokdo and see for yourself if there is even a bamboo plant there. They call Dokdo “bamboo island”…why don’t they pour a ton of cement onto an underwater rock and call it an “island”? Ke ke ke

박미애:

Really…why do they not think things through? I’m right, right ^^ There is no Takeshima Island, only Dokdo Island.

윤승규:

Japan is going to be in big trouble soon ke ke ke

류영석:

Even mainstream historians in Japan recognize Dokdo as Korean land. Japan’s claim to Dokdo has no basis in reality and their assertions to it are outside of history. They are musty people.

이승빈:

Why are our celebrities more interested in keeping the history of Korea than our Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

정예슬:

I’ve got goosebumps ㅜㅜ huh huh huh huh huh Very nice

류용현:

We can say “Dokdo is our land” all we want but those are just words; we also need to convince foreigners of this as well.

박주상:

[Quoting Park Sun-young] “However, the Japanese did not make up [their claim to] Takeshima Island overnight or in a day. We cannot let our anger get the best of us, and we must prepare a logical and systematic approach to preserve history.” Isn’t that the fucking truth. We shouldn’t just be angry…we should physically defend it as well.

정의빈:

99% of the comments on that Yahoo Japan article are praising the “Takeshima” name and saying the comfort women were prostitutes. There are hundreds, thousands of recommendations for these comments. And the people recommending these comments are not the Japanese right wing, which is the majority of Japanese netizens. The reality is that the Japanese right-wing is not a minority anymore. Because of the recession and earthquake crises the Japanese people today have fallen [morally]. We must not deal with this issue with great complacency.

조아라:

Where in the hell is Takeshima? I do not know ~~~

위대한:

Those monkeys want Dokdo because of its natural reserves. This is bullshit. I heard there is a wealth of coal reserves – 60 tons of it. Because [coal] is methane combustion, it will pollute the environment less; those monkeys, they want the economic value of Dokdo –!

하중근:

Japan is trying to undermine the truth…what a rubbish country.

문종민:

Monkeys! If Dokdo is your land, why can’t you just magnificently take it? Stop doing such despicable shit. It’s not your land, can’t you see that? Ke ke ke tsk tsk tsk

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  • Attaboy

    Dokdo is two rocks poking out of the sea. It has no military, agricultural, or tourism value whatsoever. It’s like having an international incident over a piece of driftwood. Obviously, the phrase “pick your battles” doesn’t translate well into Korean considering that this and “mad cow American beef” are the two biggest nationalistic drives of the last decade.

    • Brett Sanbon

      It has a great amount of military value. Ownership extends the national waters of either country. Your analogy to driftwood is ridiculous.

      • Ruaraidh

        Fuck there are two islands, why can’t they just each take one. As for the extension of national waters, that only applies to islands that can independently and sustainably support a human population, exempting these glorified skerries.

        • Brett Sanbon

          Thanks. Can you show me some sort of documentation on that? I am having trouble finding it.

          • Ruaraidh

            Aye so, it’s the ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – Part 8 – Article 121′.

            http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part8.htm

          • Brett Sanbon

            I need to stop taking people’s word for truth. Thanks for setting me straight.

          • Sunshinefiasco

            As long as that couple still lives there, doesn’t that make the island capable of “sustaining human habitation”? The fact that they need things shipped to them can’t be the deciding factor– that’s nearly every island there is.

        • Lynn

          Essentially, I agree with your notion. The attitude is puerile, but such is easily wounded feelings on the part of countries so recently in egregiously deep conflict and who remain in deep hatred with one another–one the aggressor, the other the subjected. From what I read, two people live there–and husband and wife who fish the waters around the islands.

          • Lynn

            I might add, the husband and wife are Korean.

    • James

      To be honest, the issue has nothing to do with military, economic or touristique value. Rather, as the last vestige of Japanese colonialism, i.e. the one bit of land Japan didn’t return to Korea when they “decolonised”, Dokdo will always be seen as a reminder of the Japanese occupation more than anything else.

      It’s a shame that what is essentially a few rocks (or a set of islets – not even geographically an island) can be the source of so much nationalism in both Japan and Korea.

      • Brett Sanbon

        In addition to extending the national waters of either country, James is also 100% correct.

        One reason Korea didn’t want to bring this issue to the International Court of Justices, is because if they were to lose Dokdo, in their eyes this would be legitimizing Japanese colonial rule. When Japan annexed the islets, this was a significant step towards the ultimate goal of colonizing of Korea.

  • Attaboy

    That being said, for the comfort women issue Korea is 1000% in the right.

  • Brett Sanbon

    “위대한: Those monkeys want Dokdo because of its natural reserves. This is bullshit. I heard there is a wealth of coal reserves – 60 tons of it.”

    This netizen must have wanted to write more, or doesn’t know how much a ton weighs… 60 tons of coal wouldn’t run a power plant for more than a couple of hours.

  • Brett Sanbon

    Very disrespectful of this politician. I can’t believe how childish people act some times (of course I am no exception). I’m surprised no one saw him in the act of doing this, or if they did, I am even more surprised that they didn’t attack him.

    Perhaps he did this to gain favor of his party and followers. You can’t expect someone who vandalizes an important historical memorial in another country to go far in any government. Then again, I don’t know much about Japanese politics, but don’t they go through more politicians than dirty underwear?

    • James

      I think it’s fair to say, like you hypothesise, he probably did this to garner favour amongst nationalists in Japan. Somewhat of a “troll” in this sense, methinks.

  • bultak

    when japanese say they were wrong, and koreans say they were wrong both sides will be right. no sooner!

  • Lynn

    Japan has never accepted resonsibility for its actrocities during WWII, especially those horribly heinous ones against China and Korea. It whitewashes its history and refuses to face the ugly truths of its wartime behavior, banning virtually any mention of it in its history books. Germany, on the other hand, has done much to face up to its own dark past. Japan would rather sweep it all under a rug and pretend it never existed–and never do any meaningful soul-searching.

    • Ruaraidh

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_War_Apology_Statements_Issued_by_Japan

      The Japanese government has apologised stacks of times, and most Japanese people do acknowledge the reality of what their country did in the past, you shouldn’t take the actions of some right wingers as being representative of the whole of Japan. Japan as it is today is a totally different place to how it was prior to and during the war. Clearly I haven’t personally been there pre-1945 to make that comparison, but Hiroo Onoda a Japanese solider who had been hiding in the jungles of a Pacific 29 years after the end of the war thinking it was still going, was not able to adjust to the new culture of Japan after finally being rescued.

      Furthermore it’s a bit of a contentious issue whether people who were not even alive at the time, let alone in a position of influence share any guilt whatsoever for the past collective actions of the nation they belong to. Also ‘Meaningful soul-searching’? how can one have meaningful soul searching over something that they had no part in that occurred before they or their parents even existed? Germany isn’t the only country that did something questionable, the only reason anyone is alive today is because their ancestors were totally ruthless, if guilt is genetic then we should all be thrown off the cliffs.

      • Justin_C

        Ruaraidh raises very good points, but there is also a matching list of gaffes and slip-of-tongues as well (I could certainly match almost every single apology issued by the PMs with the counter-examples :p).

        the main difference between germany and japan is that while post-war germany had to be politically integrated very close with her former receiving-ends (Poland, the Netherlands, France, etc) since the 50s, and as such her citizens are often educated to death about the issue of war. Without that need, I very much doubt that Germany would have been so keen to apologize as often and profusely as they have done so far (well, maybe….). The reason is that Germany ain’t exactly an angel when it comes to facing up to her colonial legacy in East Africa. But Germany is not a part of the African Union so it’s whatever for them :p

        that is not exactly the case with japan. Japan was politically separated from the rest of Northeast Asia until the 1990s (no multilateral treaty to speak of there like in EU) and never really tried hard to integrate, so the past issue was more or less just a domestic issue, and never fully grasp the international dimensions to it. I think that’s fine so long as they remain outside of the Northeast political system (or figure out a way to geologically drift towards the US away from China and Korea), but the growing economic and commercial ties have not been matched by the corresponding level of political integration similar to the one in Europe….. so we have a bit of catch-up to do.

        Domestically there was no genuine political need to discuss the issue in public given the size of the zainichi and Taiwanese subjects with whom they may have to negotiate certain kind of compensation.

        the disproportionate influence wielded by the far right-wing groups is another issue. let’s face it, there’re wingnuts everywhere but sadly in Japan they seem to certainly punch above their weight and so the textbooks often omit most basic facts about the War.

        In fact Korea has the same problem with the Vietnam war legacy – the numerous atrocities committed by the Korean military in Vietnam never gets taught so Korean students are often clueless about the war crimes committed by the Korean military there….. Korean government should apologize about that and face up to these things without any reservation. Will they? Hell no, because there is no serious political incentive for that domestically and internationally for Korea with regard to Vietnam.

        OR has Korea ever demanded apology for the mass killing of civilians by the US during the Korean war? Never. They don’t even bring that up, why? Because Korea is so integrated to the American political sphere that they will never demand any apology from the US government or compensations.

        In sum…. rather than moralising about the guilty past and what not, educate properly about what had happened so that the next generation of people will move on from this issue to something more pressing, like avoiding/attenuating FUTURE conflicts. History should not be a liability for the regional peace, innit…

        My 2 cents y’all….

      • Sunshinefiasco
    • http://www.kalanstar.com KopyKatKiller

      @Lynn: Japan apologized too many times already. War is war, no apologies needed. It’s not like war is a “nice” thing after-all. As for your BS claim that Japan doesn’t mention it in their history books, this is patently false. The only book I am aware of the glosses over wartime atrocities is one that faild to mention the siege of Nanjing and was only used by 0.03% of high schools…

  • Tippy Long Stocking

    that is very provoking on the part of the japanese politian. just wrong. after all they have done to Korean people they walk backwards just to add insult to injury.

  • C84

    Let’s see – there’s the Nagoya governor (Kawamura) and Tokyo governor (Ishihara) who denied the Rape of Nanking, this politician Suzuki who degrades the comfort women statue and of course posts the video on Youtube where there are thousands of nationalistic Japanese all itching to write nasty things about SK. There’s also the trio (Shindo, Inada, Sato) who tried to visit Ulleung Island to protest Dokdo, and the two delegations who went to New Jersey to bribe/demand the removal of the comfort women monuments. It’s one thing if some random nobodies did things like this, but these are elected politicians. This is part of why Japan will never be close to SK or China. Ever. However, I’m sure they don’t care.

    • C84

      Now I read that SK decided to go ahead (after a brief “postponement”) with the military intelligence sharing agreement with Japan, obviously under heavy pressure from the U.S., which wants to maintain its influence in the region, but decrease its workload. There’s absolutely no need to have any kind of military agreement whatsoever with Japan, the country with which it has pretty nasty relations at times. It really calls into question the U.S. alliance as well, since the U.S. is just pressuring SK behind the scenes to do things it doesn’t really want to do and should not do. Oh, and it will further piss off China, way to go, idiotic LMB administration.

  • Stories of butts

    What a disguising thing to do.

  • Lynn

    Your argument is specious, at best. History and culture builds from its past–or shrinks from it. To say that only those who are living are capable of making that culture without regard to what has gone on before, give me a break. If you tell me you are an existentialist, then I could understand your point of view. Fine. But without getting into a big hubbub here, just why do the Japanese censor their history?

    • Lynn

      Or prune it so severely around the events during WWII?

  • Lynn

    Well, your polemic was a bit of an education for me–and right on target. Some of it I should have known or at least should have given more careful analysis. Thank you for your thoughtful input.

  • Chucky3176

    First of all Dokdo:

    It’s more than just history and territory. The area around it is full of methane hydrates which are possibly the future energy material that could replace oil. The area around Korea and Japan are rich with those rocks under the sea. Korea started test drilling in 2010, while both Korea and Japan are part of the international consortium to do research and development to extract energy from those rocks. It could potentially be worth hundreds of billions of dollars per year for each country. It is a strategic national security issue, and despite what all the people who don’t have a clue say (that Japanese don’t care about the island), Japan does care very much about putting those islets under their control.

    Second: Japan Apologies

    Apologies and what they’re apologizing for are two different things. When Japan says they apologize, they’re not directly saying they apologize for all the bad things they did, nor are they admitting they did bad. What they are apologizing for is that they are very sorry this has caused bad feelings in Korea. This is confusing for Westerners to understand, but to Koreans who have been dealing with Japanese for centuries, and know Japanese very well, perfectly understand what their apologies really means.

    Third: the Nationalist Japanese.

    You really can’t say it’s just the few radical Japanese right wingers, when so many Japanese politicians and so many Japanese have toed the same line. If not, where are the Japanese majority who speak up against them? They are few or they don’t exist. Their textbooks don’t even mention the massacre of thousands of Koreans in 1923 Kanto earthquake, over a rumor that Koreans were poisoning the wells. The White house got a 25,000 petition from Japanese people and government, for repealing the history of Comfort women. And the city of New Jersey which had a Comfort Women memorial, was asked by Japanese government to take it down because they say the comfort women were prostitutes. The Japanese government refuses to open up their archives to let experts examine the records. And in Korea, the comfort women memorial received numerous threatening and racist/sexist calls from Japanese callers, saying the women were whores. In Japan, Japanese held protests outside the Korean embassy, holding up vile desecrated pictures of comfort women, with distorted pictures of faces and sexual innuendo – I didn’t see any Japanese speaking up against their hate. On the internet like Yahoo and Youtube, Japanese are busy 24 by 7 to pump out thousands of anti-Korean materials per day and upload them onto internet. The internet has become the cesspool of Japanese netizens hatred on Koreans.

    In summary: this proves all of Japan’s “apologies” were nothing but empty words, uttered so that the controversy would go away. There should be no more apologies from them. The best thing for them to do is just shut up, stop saying stupid things, and stop with agitating Koreans. But they just can’t stop themselves, as it seems.

  • Intruder

    His mother was a prostitute? his father was a Japanese? holy shit!

    Opium Wars: his father was a English? holy shit!

    Mongol Invasion: his father was a Mongol? holy shit!

    American invasion: his father was a afro-american? holy shit!

  • sakechyazuke

    Why not helping and saving today’s comfort women?

    They’ve still been suffering for over half a century even after WW-II. Just the customers were changed from the Japanese army to the USA army, but their business has kept on going..

    We need to stop their violence and save poor women.

    Modern-Day Comfort Women

    http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/13/9/901

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