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Peace Monument and Japan
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Japan is extremely fond of the word "peace." The sites where the nuclear bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been reborn as "peace parks." Many universities and other public places are home to libraries or monuments containing the word.

Even the official name of the "Asian Women's Fund," set up by Japan with the support of private companies in 1995 in order to avoid acknowledging the Japanese government's responsibility regarding the imperial Japanese military's comfort women issue, is the "Asian Peace Fund for Women."

Editorial writer Lee Seung-chul



This same Japan has reacted with venomous fury to the small "peace monument" installed on Wednesday by the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (KCWDMSSJ) in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, the government's spokesman, has openly expressed regrets and called for the monument to be removed.

Japan's infuriated response to the "peace monument" shows that the Japanese people's love for peace is a fabrication.

I don't know how much has changed now, but when I visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the late 1980s, I remember myself being filled with rage toward Japan, rather than toward war.

I actually felt nauseated by the explanations of the official there, who was banging on about peace and the horrors of war as a victim, with absolutely no sense of responsibility for aggression or for war crimes.

Japan is basing its demands for the removal of the peace monument for the sake of "maintaining the safety and dignity of diplomatic facilities," citing the Vienna Convention.

How badly must this elegant statue of a girl, barely 1.3 meters tall, be harming its dignity that Japan kicks up such a fuss? It occurs to me that it is, in fact, Japan's own attitude that is harming its dignity.

The fact is that the comfort women issue is the biggest weak point in Japanese diplomacy. In advance of the UN General Assembly meeting this year, the Japanese government unofficially requested that the Korean government not bring up the comfort women issue.

This is not all: in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, too, Japan has worked hard every year to prevent Korea from raising the comfort women issue. This causes loss of face for Japan.

I cannot help but actually feel pity for Japan as it tries to cover up the problem rather than solving it. If Japan really feels that its dignity has been damaged by the peace monument, the only response can be to resolve the comfort women issue.

If this happens, it goes without saying that the peace monument will become the symbol of a new start in Korean-Japanese relations, and that the street in front of the Japanese embassy will be reborn as a tourist spot. How I eagerly await the day when the peace monument is reborn this way! (Editorial writer Rhee Seung-chul , The Kyunghyang Daily News. December 15, 2011)


Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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