Wendy Sherman, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, told a conference on Friday that diplomatic problems between Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing were “understandable, but . . . can also be frustrating”.
“Of course . . . it is not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy,” she added, after pointing to various disagreements that relate to Japan’s colonial past. “But such provocations produce paralysis, not progress.”
Dr. Robert J. Shapiro Addresses South Korean President Park Geun-hye
I speak today as a friend and admirer of South Korea, an economist who has written extensively about your country’s remarkable transformation from a desperately poor agrarian economy to one of the world’s most economically advanced nations.
Korea is the single greatest economic success story of the last half century. But Korea today faces new challenges which will influence whether in the coming decade your country continues to prosper.
To begin, Madam President, press freedom, a hallmark of all true democracies, is under assault. The recent indictment of Tatsuya Kato for defamation is an example of a disturbing trend of harassment of foreign correspondents inside Korea.
The United Nations, as you know, has also launched a formal investigation into discrimination against non-Koreans in your country. Beyond the offense to human rights, such attacks on the free press can only discourage flows of foreign direct investment into Korea.
An even larger stumbling block for Korea’s continued prosperity is its unresolved relationship with Japan, the region’s largest free economy and democracy. Though World War II ended nearly 70 years ago, there remain many hard feelings.
Long ago, Japan paid some eight hundred million dollars ($800,000,000) in reparations to Korean victims of that war. Yet declassified documents indicate that under then-President Park Chung-hee those funds never made it to such victims, the so-called comfort women.
That may explain in small part why some old wounds have never healed. And those wounds are often reopened by the disturbingly hostile attitude towards Japan seen in Korean media and often encouraged by official statements.
Japan is a major source of foreign direct investment in Korea, a major market for Korean exports, a major source of Korean imports. It’s time to further extend and deepen the trade relations between Asia’s two most successful democratic economies.
I urge you, President Park, to take action on all of these fronts. Consider your landmark trade accord with Viet Nam, which has put aside wartime acts by Korean soldiers against civilians during Viet Nam’s civil war. It is time, President Park, to put progress ahead of past conflicts and extend the hand of friendship to Japan.
Finally, you begin to realize … but you (the US and western countries) do not know enough about Korea and China yet.
But you are right. Now, South Korea is paralyzed and a mess (politically, economically, public unsafe, foreign diplomacy) . And I feel very very sorry for your effort did not really change South Korea.
It seems like South Korea keeps digging its own grave despite the advises from friendly nations (including Japan).