Sunday, April 20, 2008

Welcome to Japan! President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is coming to Japan from April 20 to 21. This is the first time to publish a post on South Korea, since Global American Discourse was launched. In the category, entitled “China-Korea and Asia-Pacific”, this blog has been focusing China and North Korea, because both nations pose critical challenges to our liberal world order. Also, their threats to Japan are so grave that no other East Asian nations appear as frequently as both nations do on this blog.

However, active involvement of South Korea is essential in security of the Korean Peninsula which is one of the deadliest issues in East Asia. In the presidential election last year, Lee Myung-bak defeated a pro-North candidate Chung Dong-young. Not only has Lee dismantled appeasement to North Korea by his predecessor Roh Moo-hyun, the new president has been trying to improve relations with the United States and Japan. This is a major breakthrough in Far Eastern security and the War against the Axis of Evil. This is why I entitled this post “Welcome to Japan!”.

In the Roh Moo-hyun era, I was seriously concerned to read Barack Obama’s article in Foreign Affairs, saying that more South Korean role in security of the Korean Peninsula. As widely known, South Korea’s relationship with the United States and Japan strained under President Roh. But now, there is nothing to worry about larger stake of South Korea as the new president.

Currently, President Lee is on his trip to the United States and Japan, in order to strengthen tripartite partnership for security in East Asia. During the joint press conference at Camp David on April 19, President George W. Bush and President Lee Myung-bak addressed joint endeavor to advance freedom in the Asia-Pacific region. Also, both leaders raised concerns with human rights violations in North Korea.

According to news report by Chosun Ilbo (President Lee Myung-bak Leaves for US and Japan; April 15) and AFP News Agency (South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Coming to Japan; April 20), President Lee and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will discuss the following bilateral and global issues: North Korea, climate change, and the Free Trade Agreement.

Quite importantly, Lee Myung-bak declared that South Korea stop demanding apology to Japan, regarding colonial rule. Throughout the postwar period, the relationship between Japan and South Korea has been extremely idiosyncratic. Nasty emotional disputes over bilateral history and the Yasukuni Shrine have been hampering Japanese-Korean relations. As I have posted earlier, I do not agree to chauvinist ideology of the Yushukan Museum at the Yasukuni Shrine. However, both South Korean and Japanese nationalists must understand that history and Yasukuni are low priority issues, in face of North Korean threats. Whatever Japanese rightists remark, Japan has already gone through regime change, and nobody can reverse this country into a fascist nation again.

Both South Korea and Japan have common enemies and common allies. Not only nuclear weapons but also abductions by the Northern Red Devil poses dreadful danger to both countries. According to the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN or the ‘Japanese Rescue Movement’), over 100 Japanese, and furthermore, over 80,000 South Koreans have been kidnapped by the evil regime in Pyong Yang. More South Koreans are confined than Japanese by rogue and ruthless North Korea.

Common allies are no less important to deal with post Cold War dangers. Just as President Bush endorses active involvement for worldwide democracy promotion by both nations, NATO has been exploring strategic partnership with Japan and South Korea. Both countries should assume responsibilities to fulfill expectations of Washington and Brussels.

I do not expect airy fairly stories of lovely friendship between Japan and South Korea. But both countries should not be preoccupied with bilateral relations too much. Normal relations between Japan and South Korea will be a significant help for the Greater Western Alliance. The real threat for both countries is the Rogue Tiger in the North. Never forget this!