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Explosive neighborly quarrel

North Korea is the hub of conflicts in Northeast Asia revolving around. It could end in nuclear disarmament.


[asia] Korean-born police officer Masayuki Sakamoto is working to harm the rebel group Hureisenjin, which in 2009 is fighting for Korea to free itself from Japanese rule.

During the bloody fight, Sakamoto stumbles upon a gigantic plot: the Japanese have sent an agent back in time, until 1909. There, the time-traveling agent prevents Korean nationalist An Jung-geun from murdering Japanese politician Hirobumi Ito.

This changes the course of history. Japan wins World War II in alliance with the United States, while Korea remains under Japanese rule.

Korean revenge fantasies

This is the plot of the 2009 feature film Lost Memories, a nationalist science fiction thriller that was dubbed the biggest action movie in South Korean history when it premiered in 2002.

The feature film is just one of several examples of anti-Japanese and anti-American attitudes that flourish in South Korea. Such attitudes make it difficult for the three states to negotiate with North Korea, China and Russia to resolve the nuclear threat posed by North Korea's sole ruler Kim Jong-il.

In North Korea, Japan and the United States are of course enemies and potential targets for nuclear missiles, but in South Korea, too, many dream that a Korean reunion can put Japan's arch-enemy firmly in place, economically, politically and militarily. In the 1994 novel The Rose of Sharon Has Blossomed, author Kim Chin-myung describes how South Korea goes to nuclear attack on Japan. The book has sold over 4,5 million copies.

Koreans like to call their peninsula a shrimp surrounded by whales, and Korea can look back on five long-standing occupations and around 900 invasions throughout history. The "whales" of China, Russia and Japan have been fighting for dominance in the area for centuries, and after Tsar Nicholas II lost to Japan in 1905, Korea was occupied by the Japanese – who did their best to wipe the nation off the map. The population was forced to take Japanese names, while the Japanese introduced the Shinto religion and new history teaching, suppressed the Korean language and forced Koreans into the Japanese army. It took another world war for Japan to lose its grip on Korea, so it's no wonder that action movies like 2009 Lost Memories create strong emotions, fear and anger in South Korea.

Because even though Japan lost the war, Korea paid the highest price after the United States allowed the Soviet Union to invade the northern part of the peninsula on August 8, 1945. Two days later, two American officers drew a straight line through a map from the magazine National Geographic. The border with the "temporary" occupation zones signaled to Moscow that the United States accepted the tsar's old claim to the northern peninsula.

The division of Korea was by far a coincidence, far less natural than a possible division of Japan, but the decision led to

the war and a brutal division of the Korean people.

Japanese nuclear longing

Japanese leaders have since been reluctant to lament either war crimes or occupation, and no politician has been close to Willy Brandt's action in Warsaw in 1970, when he knelt at the memorial to the victims of Nazism. On August 15, Japan again incited neighboring countries when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the controversial Yasukuni War Memorial on the anniversary of the country's capitulation in 1945. Japan's ambassadors to both China and South Korea were summoned because neighboring countries believe the memorial honors Japan's war effort.

Neighborly love is not particularly cordial on the part of the Japanese either. When Kim Jong-il now brags about his nuclear weapons, launches test rockets and makes no secret of the fact that Japan is on the firing line, he is helping to steer public opinion in Japan away from the pacifist line the country has been forced to hold since defeating others. world war.

Japan can already point to the world's fourth largest military budget, but now strong forces are demanding that the country also acquire its own nuclear weapons to defend itself against the North Korean threat. If Japan begins to arm itself, nuclear weapons could spread rapidly in Asia. Former CIA chief George Tenet has launched a new domino theory to explain the nuclear proliferation that could follow from Japan to Iran if the world community fails to disarm North Korea – the only country so far to withdraw from the 1970 non-proliferation treaty.

In Japan, nuclear longing is spreading in line with growing anger at North Korea's provocations, growing frustration over South Korea's unwillingness to take off its silk gloves in the conflict and the cautious behavior of Japanese politicians.

The conflict escalated after Kim Jong-il admitted in 2002 that twelve Japanese were abducted by North Korea between 1977 and 1983. The abductions were probably part of plans to train spies in Japanese language and culture. Relatives of the abducted have long criticized Kim Jong-il's heartlessness and the inefficiency and cowardice of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

He is criticized for being so eager to negotiate with Kim Jong-il that he forgets his counterclaims at home in Tokyo. In 2002, he became the first Japanese head of state to meet North Korea's dictator. He then swallowed North Korea's explanations raw, and accepted, among other things, that two abducted Japanese in their 20s had died due to heart problems. Critics said Koizumi was reduced to a poor hostage dealer, who thanked for the help when North Korea released five kidnappers, as well as five children of kidnappers, in exchange for financial aid, food and other goods.

China is creeping in

Author and politician Shintaro Ishihara believes that Japan should instead have sent forces to North Korea to liberate all kidnappers.

the victims. Japan's armed forces are now unable to carry out extensive military action against Pyongyang, and this Japanese inefficiency could have dramatic military consequences. In the wake of the kidnappings, a broad popular movement has emerged that demands that Japan lift pacifism at sea, arm itself and ultimately acquire nuclear weapons.

If Japan shows weakness, the other neighbors will also sneak in to take advantage of the situation. Confidence in South Korea is rising sharply in line with the country's economic adventures, and China has resumed its dispute with Japan over the Senkaku Islands northeast of Taiwan, while the Chinese navy has repeatedly violated Japanese waters. Therefore, more Japanese now dream of being able to deal with their aggressive enemies on their own, without help from the United States. Following North Korea's test launches, senior government spokesman Shinzo Abe spoke about the possibility of attacking North Korea in the name of self-defense – in line with the arguments the United States, Israel and Ethiopia have used to defend their attacks on Iraq, Lebanon and Somalia.

On paper, the question of North Korea's nuclear weapons is a fair scourge. If neighboring countries agree on economic sanctions and political pressure, it should not be long before Kim Jong-il's regime falters. The problem is that negotiations are hampered by the extremely poor neighborhood in the region. For China, North Korea is a welcome buffer against market capitalism in South Korea and a brilliant annoyance to the United States and Japan. South Korea, for its part, is adamant about the "sunshine policy" of the old arch-enemy in the north. The hope of a possible reunion and political thaw is stronger than the desire to force Kim Jong-il to his knees.

In 2009 Lost Memories, Masayuki Sakamoto finally realizes that he is Korean, and he travels back in time to prevent the Japanese agents' clutter with history. Unfortunately, it is not time machines, but nuclear weapons that are thirsty for in Northeast Asia during the day – and that can quickly create more problems than solutions.

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