It’s no news that there’s friction between Japan and South Korea. Trade disputes and the omnipresent “comfort women” issue have deeply soured relations between the two countries. Government grievances are trickling down to the civilian level. South Koreans are boycotting Japanese goods — Japanese beer imports fell a shocking 97% in August, while South Korean beer companies saw a boom in consumption.
Many Koreans who call Japan home are worrying how the rise in anti-Korean sentiment will affect their businesses and lives. The Japanese media certainly isn’t helping combat those fears. If anything, they’re only fanning the flames of anti-Korean sentiment.
An “Expert” and His Hate Crime “Blunder”
In August 27 the TBS program 『ゴゴスマ〜GOGO！Smile！〜』, airing at 1:55pm, featured guest Takeda Kunihiko (武田邦彦), a scientist and engineer at the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University. The panel was commenting on a video showing a Korean man appearing to stalk two Japanese female tourists. Takeda felt the need to state, “This kind of thing [men attacking female Japanese tourists] only happens in Korea.”Despite the other panelists’ saying “That’s a bit much,” Takeda stubbornly went on to say that, “Japanese men will be attacked if Korean women come to Japan.”
Twitter user @montagekijyo posted the offending clip that garnered over 7000 retweets and 9000 likes.
Granted, this is the same scientist who appeared on television last year to report that climate change was a hoax, so I’d hope viewers would take anything he said with a grain of salt. It says a lot that he made these remarks and wasn’t properly reprimanded by TBS, despite outcry from other TV personalities.
“Who Needs South Korea?”
As if things couldn’t get any worse, Shogagukan’s “Weekly Post” (週刊ポスト; Shukan Post) released their September 13 issue titled “Who Needs South Korea?” (韓国なんていらない).
The issue touched upon a report titled “Pathology of Anger Problems in Koreans” (『怒りを抑えられない韓国人という病理』) which stated that 1 in 10 Koreans had uncontrollable anger issues requiring treatment. The kicker is, this report actually exists and was authored by the Korean Neuropsychiatric Society, but its findings were manipulated by Shukan Post to paint Koreans in a barbaric manner and exacerbate already souring relations.
Shukan Post has since issued an official apology, but many aren’t buying it, and for good reason. Current and previous writers for Shogagukan expressed their disgust with the Post’s blatant hate spread and announced they would no longer work for an Shogagukan publication.
No End in Sight
On September 3, the Korean embassy in Japan revealed that on August 27 they received an anonymous letter containing a bullet and threatening violence against Koreans. Police are currently investigating the matter.
Some Koreans who call Japan home are taking a stand against this new wave of hate. Acclaimed author Yu Miri took to Twitter to share her way of fighting against the hate:
Anti-Korean sentiment has been a mainstay among right-wing ultra-nationalist Japanese groups for decades. The Japanese government passed a law prohibiting hate speech against Koreans, but that’s done little to deter people from harassing Koreans and boycotting their businesses. With the trade disputes overshadowed by a history of colonialism, comfort women, and forced slave labor, an easy resolution pacifying both sides is unlikely.
Whether the Japanese government will begin to take serious action to curb the rising hate towards Koreans remains to be seen. However, given the Abe admin’s mollycoddling of right-wing extremists, any positive action will likely be a long time coming…if at all.