Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.


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Hi Blog. In another big piece of news, Japan is taking another step closer to healing the wounds around Asia of a cruel colonial past by saying sorry to South Korea. Good. Bravo. Sad that it took a century for the apologies and return of some war spoils, but better now than never. Let’s hope it further buries the ahistorical revisionist arguments that basically run, “We were invited to Korea, and did them a favor by taking them over.” — arguments that help nobody get over the past or help with neighborly Asian cooperation. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan To Voice Remorse Tues. Over Annexation of Korea 100 Years Ago
Kyodo World Service in English 1211 GMT 09 Aug 10 2010, courtesy Club of 99.


Tokyo, Aug. 9 Kyodo — Prime Minister Naoto Kan is scheduled to release a statement for South Korea on Tuesday regarding the centenary later this month of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula, ruling party lawmakers said Monday.

The statement will include a phrase expressing deep remorse and apologizing for Japan’s colonial rule, stating also that Japan will return cultural artifacts taken from the peninsula that South Korea has been demanding, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The expressions used closely follow those of past prime ministerial statements — one by Tomiichi Murayama in August 1995 and another by Junichiro Koizumi in August 2005, the sources said.

The government told the Democratic Party of Japan that Kan is planning to release a statement in connection with the centenary after securing approval from the Cabinet on Tuesday, Goshi Hosono, acting secretary general of the DPJ, told reporters after attending a ruling party meeting.

While apologizing for the annexation, the statement will also be aimed at deepening future-oriented ties with South Korea, the sources said.

Kan is hoping to turn the page on bilateral historical issues, while enhancing cooperation with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s government in addressing challenges related to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and its past abduction of foreign nationals, the sources said.

On the transfer of cultural artifacts, the items in question are believed to be held by the Imperial Household Agency, including the Joseon Wangsil Uigwe, a meticulous record of Korean royal ceremonies and rituals.

The statement to be released Tuesday will only be directed at South Korea, whereas the Murayama statement apologized to Asian victims of Japan’s past aggression, the sources said.

The statement does not refer to Japan-North Korea relations, the sources said.

The release will take place before Aug. 15, when South Korea celebrates its liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

Kan’s Cabinet had been considering releasing the statement either before Aug.15 or Aug. 29, the day the annexation treaty was proclaimed 100 years ago.

Kan is slated to hold a news conference on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to explain his reason for issuing the statement.

Opposition to releasing such a document remains among conservative lawmakers within and outside the DPJ, with some expressing concern over renewed claims for financial compensation for the suffering inflicted during Japan’s colonial rule in some Asian countries.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano said at a news conference that the party did not make any special request regarding the release.

Edano also said he has no concerns about reigniting the issue of compensation in Asia because of the release.


27 comments on “Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.

  • Here’s the story in Japanese


    I love how they use the term 植民地時代に朝鮮半島から日本へ流出した文化財 to describe cultural artifacts taken/stolen from Korea. The creative use of the term 流出 makes it sound quite passive and benign….

    — As if treasure just managed to “flow” over here. As part of the Flog of War, mayhaps?

    8月9日21時39分配信 毎日新聞







  • I don’t know about returning artifacts, but Japan has made many previous apologies:

    — I don’t know if people understand how apologies work, but an apology about something like this is not something you make once. You make them repeatedly, and sincerely, until… well until everyone (particularly the victim) agrees that it’s history and you’re forgiven. Which, given the gravity of the situation, will probably take generations.

    As for returning artifacts, the amount of war spoils Japan has is immense (cf. Seagrave, GOLD WARRIORS), so this is but a sou back, but an important step.

  • My husband was delighted to hear that yesterday on the news. I think, however, that this act will bring a wave of protests among empowered nationalists like this “Tachiagare, Nippon”party, for example, which may reflect on Korean citizen and enterprises located in Japan.

    — It will blow over. Ignore the bullies or they just get stronger.

  • “Which, given the gravity of the situation, will probably take generations.”
    Debito, that is an excellent point. But the problem is that Japanese government does not understand the situation and think the apology is to put an end to its past. This wishful thinking by the GoJ is called “future-oriented ties with South Korea”. PM Kan is just to add another insincere apology to the list of insincere apologies.

    In pragmatism, this is a bad diplomatic maneuver. No Western nation has ever apologized its colonial rule. I think this attitude is more sincere than tens of insincere apologies by the Government of Japan.

    — No Western nation has ever apologized for its colonial rule? Does Clinton apologizing for slavery count? I’m sure we can find other similar examples (go for it, readers). But at least you’re accepting that it was a colonization. Some people won’t even do that.

  • Giant Panda says:

    I’m sure the black trucks had advance wind of this one, there were several doing laps of my office building yesterday. But Bravo for the DPJ! So nice to hear of a conciliatory gesture which aims at building bridges. If Japan is to survive the ascendency of China they will need to band together with other Asian countries like never before.

  • With regard to Claytonian and Debito’s response, I’d add that an apology has to be sincere. Previous so-called “apologies” have smacked of mere formality, like the approval of minutes of the previous meeting at the top of the current agenda. Viz:
    1. Apologise to Korea
    2. Issue statement decrying Japan bashing
    3. Remind China it is the “sick man of Asia”
    4. Nippon banzai!
    What? Why are you unhappy? We already apologised!

    — If you’re referring to my response, I too said an apology has to be sincere: “You make them repeatedly, and sincerely…”

  • “Opposition to releasing such a document remains among conservative lawmakers within and outside the DPJ,”

    I m just a bit worried they will bow down to rightist pressure yet again. Sometimes I think some older people here yearn nostalgically for a “simpler” time, i.e. the 80s, when Japan was in economic ascent, had the full and seemingly unconditional support of the USA and so didn’t have to worry about China or Korea. Thats basically what the Tachigare Party and others are counting on; this “nostalgia”.

    Their recent lives must seem very “mendokusai” in comparison,what with all these pesky gaijins complaining, and leading to the inward looking self-pity accompanied with rightist snarlings we are now seeing, but that’s just my take on it.

  • “I’m sure we can find other similar examples (go for it, readers).”

    Sort or related… in Australia the “stolen generation” was a generation of indigenous Australian children who were taken from their families to be cared for by christian missions. As one of his first acts, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a formal apology in 2008 (after the previous right-wing prime minister refused to apologise countless times).


  • HO,

    Oh for Pete’s sake. “No Western nation has ever apologized its colonial rule.” What are you talking about?


    And really, you should look more at the issue of logical fallacies because they tend to litter your arguments.

    The argument that Japan is in the right to do or not to do something based on what western nations are doing or not doing is called an Ad Hominem Tu Quoque argument, I believe. Simply put, just because someone else doesn’t help out at the scene of a traffic accident doesn’t mean it’s right for you not to do so as well. Think about it.

  • I’m not sure that the USA has apologised for its colonisation of the whole of North America. Certainly, it’s making no move to give the seized territory back to the colonised, something even the British managed eventually, in the cases where we’d left some of the colonised alive. Granted, the British had the advantage of having Britain left at the end of the process, while the USA is all colony. On the other hand, the British are quite firm about not giving back the looted cultural treasures in the British Museum, ditto the French and the ones in the Louvre.

    I think the apologies are a good thing, but to be honest Japan seems to do about as well as any other post-Imperial power at this (that is, not very well). Kudos to Mr Kan for doing this, in the face of domestic opposition.

  • Giant Panda said: “I’m sure the black trucks had advance wind of this one, there were several doing laps of my office building yesterday.”

    Off topic, but yesterday’s convoy of black (and blue, grey and white) trucks was the annual Nagasaki Anniversary outing. I assume they were out on Friday, too, but I wasn’t around to see them.

  • http://political-apologies.wlu.ca/details.php?table=doc_press&id=587








    Some examples of apologies and compensation for either colonial rule or for incidents that occurred during colonial rule. These aren’t enough, in my opinion, but they’re something at least.

    As a Briton, I think Britain should apologise for it’s colonial past. However, it should be noted that even if a formal apology has not been forthcoming, Britain still readily educates school children about the dark side of it’s history. It has also had a progressive and successful immigration and integration policy regarding the descendants of former colonies, particularly India.

    Congratulations to Mr. Kan for making the apology.

    — Now, in the spirit of capitulation, can we get HO to admit he was wrong?

  • @Rob, Britain need not apologize for colonialism, only for atrocities when commited.The situation is markedly different from Japan.
    Britain gave countries independence when they asked for it in most cases, and most former colonies were ok to join the Commonwealth as equal parties. I m not saying everything was sweetness and light, though.

    This is different to Japan’s short-lived attempt at an “empire”. They murdered millions in recent genocidal wars and were kicked out at the end of it. Other than certain elements of Taiwan and the junta in Myanmar, I don’t see any of these former colonies rushing to join a Japan-style commonwealth.

    There is a difference, and thats why they need to keep on apologizing. For as long as their former victims want them to.

  • Brad, in your first link, German Government did not apologize for colonial rule nor for colonization war but for war crimes during colonization war.
    The second link is about apology to its own citizen, as opposed to foreign government in diplomatic relation. The theme of the essay is national membership. A government loses nothing by apologizing to its own people. By the way, when will Australia return the land to Aboriginal Australians? Koreans restored their land 65 years ago.

    Rob, your first link is indeed an apology for colonial rule. I correct my comment to “No Western nation except Italy has ever apologized for its colonial rule.”
    The 2nd link is not a government apology but a personal apology by a descendant of a slave trader.
    The 3rd link is not an apology for colonial rule but for spreading of diseases, shooting by police and removal of chiefly titles.
    The 4th and 5th links are not an apology for colonial rule but for slavery.
    The 6th and 7th links are not an apology for colonial rule but for rapes and deaths and injuries due to explosion of left behind explosives.
    The 8th link is not an apology for colonial rule but only for “potato famine” suffered by the Irish.

    I think all of these except Italian case have a message that colonial rule itself is not a bad thing.

    Joe, I read the link and felt it is more of a list excuses than an apology. What the Congress apologized for is this.
    “(3) apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893 with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self-determination; ”
    So, “participation of agents and citizens of the United States” in spite of US government instruction to the contrary. Then again, this is an apology to its own people. Are there any plans to make Hawaii an independent nation?

    Thank you all. I learned a lot by the information provided.

    — You certainly learned how to wriggle and nit-pick. Actually, I don’t think you needed to learn.

  • Ho – You exhibit a behavior that I see too often in Japan – you decide what is appropriate for Japan to do, or how to act based upon how western nations have behaved…

    How western nations have or will act in the future is fundamentally irrelevant.

    You do your nation a disservice when you apparently need western nations to act first in order for an action to be justified. If Kan thinks now is the time and this is the way, and you agree, just say so. If you disagree, say so. At this point, comparisons only cloud the issue.

    I assume that as the leader of Japan, Kan has access to much more detailed information regarding Japan’s occupation of Korea. Based on that information, he has come to this course of action. Good for him. I hope this heals some long festering wounds on both sides.

    Since no western nation occupied Korea for 50 years, your comparison is irrelevant.

    Take pride in your nation, but be adult enough to admit when your nation behaves inappropriately.

  • HO, I did point out initially that the links represented “examples of apologies and compensation for either colonial rule or for incidents that occurred during colonial rule”. I think that makes it perfectly clear that I’m not saying all these incidents are direct apologies for colonial rule. However, it’s equally important to apologise for incidents that occurred during colonial periods, which were directly brought about by colonialism.

    “I think all of these except Italian case have a message that colonial rule itself is not a bad thing.”

    Yes sure, if you accept that actions carried out by colonialists during colonial periods can be easily seperated from the colonial rule itself. I don’t think they can, and I think each of these apologies and offers of compensation contain an implicit criticism of colonialism.

    Wouldn’t it be a far less sincere apology that ran “I apologise for colonising your country, but not for raping women, blowing people up with bombs, spreading diseases, sanctioning police brutality, and failing to provide an agricultural infrastructure that would have prevented the decimation and exodus of your population through famine”?

    You argue that “No Western nation has ever apologized its colonial rule. I think this attitude is more sincere than tens of insincere apologies by the Government of Japan.” My reading of your words here is that not apologising is “more sincere” because the countries simply don’t care about their colonial pasts. On the contrary, my links show countries sincerely apologising for specific events. That seems more sincere to me than a blanket apology for colonialism.

    You disagree, which is fine. I’d appreciate it if you could do it in a less sarcastic, point-scoring way next time though.

    — I think you mistook HO for a person who actually reads what we write, not knee-jerk reacts as if we’re all out to get Japan.

  • HO said: “No Western nation except Italy has ever apologized for its colonial rule.”
    And the apologies were not sincere. It was just a way to grant Italian firms the possibility of investing in Libya and to obtain Libya’s help in stopping illegal immigrants who sail from its coasts to reach Italy. Lybia, on the other hand, obtained infrastructures, which in any case can be built exclusively by Italian companies, and succeeded in its commitment to reparation politics. Berlusconi more than once described the purpose of the treaty as “less illegal immigrants and more oil.” Italy’s crimes during the colonial period are not even mentioned in the treaty, and actually most Italians don’t know about them because they’re generally neither taught in schools nor publically discussed. Meanwhile, the approximately 20,000 Italians who lived in Libya and were repatriated after their properties were expropriated when Gaddafi took power in 1970 are still waiting for compensation, either from Libya or Italy. Also, Italy colonized Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, too and invaded Albania during WWII, and it still hasn’t apologised nor has it paid reparations, as far as I know.
    If you’re interested, you can find a good analysis of the Libyan-Italian treaty here http://www.merip.org/mero/mero031609.html. It’s long, but it clearly shows that it was all just “theater”.

    — Thanks for this. But further posts offering perspective on overseas cases of historical apologies should take the time to add how it relates/compares to Japan’s current apology to Korea, please.

  • @Jon: Your view of the history of the British Empire seems about as distorted as the Japanese view of the history of their empire (I’m British, by the way). It took about forty years of peaceful protest, met with brutal repression, to get the British to leave India, for example. We were simply thrown out of Rhodesia. As for genocidal attacks, the British are responsible for one of the very few genuinely genocidal incidents in colonial history: there are no Tasmanians left. They were all killed by the British settlers. Other nations might have attempted genocide, but it took the Brits to succeed.

    There’s nothing unusual about Japanese revisionism on these issues, nor about sanitised textbooks. At least in my day, which was about twenty years ago, British textbooks were very quiet on the negative legacy of British colonialism. Valentina says that Italian textbooks are the same. Apologising 100 years after the event is also normal; the US apology to Hawaii and the German apology to Namibia were on the same anniversary, and the apologies for slavery were even later than that.

    I’d say that Japan’s record is pretty average by global standards, so I don’t think nihonjinron exceptionalism is appropriate here. Mr Kan’s apology also looks like a good one, if the Asahi article about it at http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0810/TKY201008100186.html is right. It includes an explicit acknowledgement that the Koreans did not want to be taken over, and had their country and culture stolen, and a commitment to having the courage to face historical facts and the humility to accept them, as well as recapitulating the Murayama apology for damage done. Like Mr Arudou, I hope this helps move the debate in Japan on a bit.

    「改めて痛切な反省」 韓国併合100年、首相が談話








  • “And the apologies were not sincere. It was just a way to grant Italian firms the possibility of investing in Libya”

    Ok, I can relate this to Japan.
    1. Most post-war reparations from Japan, to, e.g. Indonesia or Malaysia were in the form of Japanese firms and factory investment.
    2. As with Okinawa, three fourths of said investment flows back to mainland Japan.

    I m quoting my findings in my degree done 25 years ago, but will search sources if required.

  • I should have looked harder. Asahi has the full text of the apology:


    韓国併合100年 首相談話の全文






    And the South Korean response suggests that they are getting to the point of accepting it:





  • AIB, the apology you linked is the same one as the 3rd link by Rob.

    But what surprised me a bit was this quote.
    ‘The New Zealand Herald praised the prime minister, and called the apology a “closure on past shame.”‘

    An apology is not an end but a beginning of ever lasting effort for atonement. New Zealanders should not think they can get way with their “past shame” just by saying sorry.

    In the famous “tensei jinngo” column of Asahi Shimbun today (Aug. 11, 2010) had this strange sentence after PM Kan’s apology.
    “(We) would like to end a relationship of apology (with Korea) around this time.”
    This is what one of the most liberal newspapers in Japan has to say on the next day of the apology. As I expected, Japan thinks it can get away from its past just by saying sorry, and has no intention for continued efforts for atonement.

    — Some days I don’t know which HO is in the house: The Defensive Delusional Nitpicker Nationalist, or the Prudent Researcher Who Adds to Discussions. This post seems an example of both.

    And if you think the Asahi is “one of the most liberal newspapers in Japan” (There aren’t that many major ones, and the Mainichi holds the leftist position; Kyodo News Service beats them both.), you’ve been reading papers from the 1980s. But we digress…

  • “An apology is not an end but a beginning of ever lasting effort for atonement. New Zealanders should not think they can get way with their “past shame” just by saying sorry.”

    HO: well, well, well… another snipe from a ignorant fool/troll…
    That statement was taken completely out of context since if you read a little further:

    “Successive Japanese leaders found it impossible and Australia’s John Howard stuttered and gagged when it came to apologising to his country’s subjugated indigenous peoples.
    “So we should not see Prime Minister Helen Clark’s apology as mere words.”
    But the leader of New Zealand’s Opposition National Party, Bill English, was not so sure.
    Mr English said it was “appropriate to acknowledge the suffering” that took place.

    In no way does it imply that nothing else was done. I wonder if HO knows anything about NZ history??? The comment about NZer’s getting away with just an apology is quite insulting and disgusting. Learn about NZ and its people before making such stupid comments about all NZers!

    NZ has a very good track record on recognising and settling the past injustices of its colonial past. Just look at the treaty of waitangi tribunal process -which ends with compensation, land restoration and offical apologies to the affected iwi. The many many laws that consider the sensitivities of the local iwi such as the Resource Management Act. It is an example of how laws are made to include respect for the maori people so that the past injustices won’t happen again.

    — Now as I requested, please relate this back to the Japanese apology even if only in the conclusion. Any more rebuttals without context will not be approved.

  • Debito,

    I read allot of the Seagraves book, and to be honest, it seems to be allot of speculation. The author seems to have a very limited understanding of the US Military and its structure/operations. “A source from the Embassy said the US seals in Manila were recovering gold” – a perfect example. It doesnt seem very plausible and I was disappointed.

  • Should Japan apologize to Taiwan for colonial rule, 1895-1945?


    Recently, Japan apologized to South Korea for
    its colonial rule (1910 – 1945), seeking, according to an Associated
    Press report, “to strengthen ties between the two countries ahead of
    the 100th anniversary of the Japanese annexation of the Korean

    During Japan’s occupation of Korea, many Koreans were forced to fight
    as front-line soldiers for Japan’s Imperial Army, work in slave-labor
    conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the
    Japanese military. Sound familiar? Substitute “Taiwan” for “Korea” in
    the news reports, and the picture becomes clear. Japan also owes an
    apology to Taiwan for drafting young Taiwanese men to fight as
    front-line soldiers for Japanese military campaigns and for forcing
    thousands of Taiwanese women, many of them Aboriginal girls, to serve
    as “comfort women” in Japanese
    military brothels. Just as many older Koreans still remember
    atrocities committed by Japan, many older Taiwanese also remember.
    Although the issues do not remain as sensitive many decades later here
    in Taiwan, the mental and psychological toll of the Japanese colonial
    rule of Taiwan (1895 – 1945) cannot merely be airbrushed away by
    Japanese spin doctors.

    “For the enormous damage and suffering caused by this colonization, I
    would like to express once again our deep remorse and sincerely
    apologize,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the Korean people
    in early August. His statement was intended specifically for the ears
    of South Korean people, in contrast to earlier apologies by Japan for
    wartime actions made broadly to the island nation’s Asian neighbors,
    including Taiwan.

    Kan also said Japan plans to return some “stolen” Korean cultural
    artifacts, including historical documents, that it “acquired” while
    ruling the Korean peninsula in the early half of the 20th Century.
    Will Japan also agree to return some of Taiwan’s cultural artifacts
    that were also transported to Japanese museums during the colonial
    days and also humbly and heartfeltly apologize for forcing young
    Taiwanese women into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers during the
    war years, some as young as 16 and 17?

    History is a cruel reminder of what some nations to do other nations,
    and while many South Koreans were glad to hear of Kan’s recent
    remarks, many of the older people in Jorea told reporters covering the
    story that “Tokyo’s [new] “apology was insufficient, saying it should
    be backed up by specific measures such as reparations for victims,
    prosecution of wrongdoers and a record of the Japanese military’s
    history of sexual slavery in Japanese textbooks.”

    After Kan’s remarks were publicized in Korea, a small group of
    activists protested in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, urging
    Japan to offer a more sincere apology and return all Korean cultural
    artifacts in its possession. Said one activist: “We no longer welcome
    apologies of words without action.”

    Kan’s apology comes ahead of the 100-year anniversary of Tokyo’s
    annexation of the Korean peninsula on August 29. Did Japan offer a
    similar and yet specific apology to Taiwan in 1995 to mark the
    100-year anniversary of Tokyo’s forced annexation of this island? If
    it did, I am not aware of it. And has Japan really ever made up for
    what it did to the so-called “comfort women” of Taiwan who were forced
    to “comfort” Japanese officers and soldiers in military brothels as
    unpaid prostitues, sometimes servicing as many as 20 men a day?

    Okay, war is terrible, ugly, and unspeakable acts often occur. But
    where are the apologies from Japan. Germamy, after World War II, did
    apologize to the entire world, and has been
    in an apooogy mode ever since. Germany saw the light and humbly said
    the Nazi era was an abomination. Has Japan ever really apologized for
    the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, for the atrocities committed
    all over Asia during what it calls the Pacific War, for the unspeakble
    horrors that the Taiwanese, Dutch and Korean “comfort women” had to
    live through?

    In his statement in August, Kan expressed “deep regret over the
    suffering inflicted” during Japan’s rule over Korea, and his official
    cabient endorsed the statement.
    Saying that Japan will hand over some important cultural artifacts
    that South Korea has been asking for, including records of an ancient
    Korean royal dynasty, Kan tried to own
    up to his country’s past, including the unsavory history of Japan
    forcing some 200,000 non-Japanese women, mainly from Korea, Taiwan and
    China, to service
    the Emperor’s soldiers as prostitutes.

    How did South Korea’s ruling party react? A party statement said Kan’s
    speech was “a step forward” from past statements, but “not enough to
    allay” Korean anger.
    The Korean government said that Kan’s words did not contain “[any]
    mention of illegitimacy of the forced annexation and Koreans forced to
    work as sex slaves or manual laborers by the Japanese army.”

    So where does Taiwan stand in this developing story? Will Japan
    someday offer a similar apology to this country’s people?

    As the Taipei Times reported (“Protesters demonstrate for Japan’s
    ‘comfort women'”, p. 2, August 12), “Japan still refuses to admit it
    ever recruited women [from Taiwan] for use as sex slaves by its
    Imperial Army, let alone apologize or compensate them.”

    “As part of a globally coordinated action, activists for former
    comfort women’s rights …..staged a demonstration outside Japan’s
    representative office in Taipei, ahead of the 65th anniversary of
    Japan’s surrender [at the end of WWII], demanding Japan apologize for
    the recruitment of [Taiwanese] comfort women,” the Taipei Times
    reported. “Holding up signs that read ‘I won’t forget until I die’ and
    ‘Japanese government, apologize,’ dozens of demonstrators …chanted
    slogans as they demonstrated outside …the Japanese representative
    office in Taipei.”

    Kang Shu-hua (康淑華), director of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation,
    noting that even 65 years after Japan surrendered, said : “We would
    like to urge the Japanese government to honestly admit its wrongdoings
    in the past, so that the mistakes won’t be repeated again.” According
    to Kang, Japan still refuses to even admit it ever recruited ”comfort
    women” and has declined all demands for an official government
    apology or compensation.

    Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英), who also
    attended the protest, told reporters: “I don’t remember how many times
    I have demanded Japan’s apology. If Japan can apologize to South Korea
    for its invasion of that country, it should also apologize to those
    Taiwanese who suffered under Japanese imperialism.”

    At issue here in Taiwan is not only the “comfort women.” Chung
    Sheng-huang (莊盛晃), director of the Kaohsiung City Association for
    Taiwanese Veteran Soldiers, noted: “In fact, Japan not only recruited
    ‘comfort women’ during World War II, it also deployed more than
    200,000 Taiwanese [young] men to serve in the Japanese Imperial Army
    in Southeast Asia and China. We should not forget the history.” Not
    all of them came home, Chung might have added.

    There’s a telling coda to the story of the recent protest outside the
    Japanese trade office. When the demonstrators went to the Japanese
    trade office to deliver a letter of protest, it was duly accepted by
    someone from the Japanese representative office who nevertheless
    refused to give his name or title. What could this man, an officer at
    the trade office, be afraid of? He works for a major world power —
    Japan, third leading ecnomy in the world — and he wouldn’t tell
    reporters his name or position?

    There’s more: When the demonstrators asked the Japanese official if he could
    please place a final puzzle piece into a map of Taiwan with pictures
    of victims of Japanese imperialism and colonialism, he refused,
    according to the Taipei Times.

    Kang’s response to Japan’s silence on these issues sumed up the
    current state of affairs between Taiwan and Japan in terms of ever
    getting an official apology from Tokyo. “The puzzle symbolizes the
    historical memory, which can only be full if the Japanese government
    faces history,” she said. “We regret that it could not be completed
    because the Japanese government was reluctant to join.”

    So will Taiwan ever get a similar government apology from Japan that
    Tokyo recently issued to South Korea? Only history knows, and for now,
    history’s not talking.


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