We're getting close to the anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. And, nationalists in both Japan and South Korea are creating incidents. The first happened in Seoul during a soccer game between the Japanese and South Korean national teams. Some spectators unveiled a banner attacking Japan for not making amends for its occupation of Korea before the war. That's brought a flurry of finger pointing from both countries. Here's Japan's public broadcaster, NHK.
During the East Asian Cup final in Seoul, South Korean fans raised a banner that read, "A nation that forgets history has no future." The Japanese Soccer Association said the act violated a ban by world football governing body FIFA on political statements at matches. But South Korean officials say that Japanese fans had waved a rising sun flag. The flag was used by the Japanese military during World War II. they say the rising sun flag symbolizes past suffering of South Koreans, and calls to mind acts of the former Japanese imperial army. Japan's sports minister, Hakubun Shimomura, caused a further stir with his comments.
Such an incident shows the cultural level of a nation. I hope South Koreans will watch sports games in a fair manner.
South Korea's foreign ministry called the remark "rude" and "deeply regrettable."
In California, a group of Korean Americans unveiled a statue to represent Korean women drafted as so-called "comfort women." That's a euphemism for tens of thousands, mostly Koreans, forced to work in brothels during the war to serve Japanese soldiers. Here's NHK again.
About 500 people attended the unveiling in the city of Glendale, including one woman who claims to be a former comfort woman. The statue is a replica of one in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. It's the first such statue in the US West Coast. Korean-Americans have helped put up at least three on the East Coast.
Kim Bok-dong, former comfort woman:
Japan should quickly admit to its mistakes and apologize.
Some Japanese who live in the area and Japanese-Americans have complained about the statue, as has Japan's top government spokesman.
Yoshihide Suga, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary:
The government's stance regarding the issue of so-called comfort women is to avoid making it into a political and diplomatic issue. We cannot reconcile our way of thinking with the building of this statue.
The Japanese Consulate general in Los Angeles issued a statement. It said, the erection of the statue is "extremely regrettable."