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Yoichi Shimada

【#289】U.S. Official’s Remark and Chinese and Korean Responses

Yoichi Shimada / 2015.03.12 (Thu)

March 9, 2015

     "It’s not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy. But such provocations produce paralysis, not progress," said Wendy R. Sherman, U.S. undersecretary of state, on February 27, citing the comfort women problem. South Korean media and politicians reacted harshly against the remark that they took as criticizing President Park Geun-hye.

Suggestive column story by Chinese scholar
     But the Chinese government has remained silent about the Sherman remark. This is because Beijing views history as its card for separating Japan from the United States and hopes to refrain from disputing with the United States over conceptions of history. But a famed pro-government scholar indicates China’s intention in her column. Ms. Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department for International and Strategic Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said:
     "Undersecretary Sherman rated high Japan's role demonstrated for its cooperation with the United States and publicly praised Japan as supporting international law and making great contributions to the development of foreign countries. She also intentionally touched on gaps between Japan, and China and South Korea over history problems, concluding that the largest factor behind the problems is Chinese and South Korean nationalistic sentiment.
     "However the United States helps Japan escape its responsibility, the international community, particularly its Asian neighbors, will never forget Japan as assailant." (People's Daily overseas edition, March 3)
     The column story straightly indicates that China wants to win at least South Korea over to its side while fearing that Japan and the United States would enhance their cooperation through the ideas of freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights to undermine the basis of the existence of the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorship.

South Korea should not close space for discussion
     Ms. Su touched on the comfort women problem and said:
     “China and South Korea have decided on their relevant organizations’ joint research on documents related to the comfort women problem and their exchange of copies of such documents. Japan cannot take advantage of the alliance with the United States to get around history problems. The United States exploited a multilateral summit to realize a South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit and mediate between the South Korean and Japanese leaders. But history problems have impeded the development of the trilateral relationship. The present South Korean and Japanese leaders have not held any official bilateral meeting since they took the helm of their respective countries.”
     The frank comment by the Chinese Communist Party’s international strategy expert serving as a regular columnist for the People’s Daily overseas edition clearly suggests that China is exploiting South Korea as a tool to separate Japan from the United States and South Korea. Is South Korea still failing to find that? On February 17, the Seoul District Court decided to ban the publication of “Teikoku no ianfu (Imperial Comfort Women),” an empirical study on the comfort women problem by Sejong University Professor Park Yu-ha. A space for discussion must not be closed. How about holding an international workshop for Japanese, American and South Korean students about the Sherman speech and the Su Xiaohui column story?

Yoichi Shimada is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Fukui Prefectural University.