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Japan Apologizes for Last Century’s Colonization of Korea

It’s not the first time they’ve apologized for taking over Korea in the early 1900s. The primie minister apologized in 2001 for the same thing. Yesterday, Japan’s foreign minister Katsuya Okada apologized again, claiming it was a “tragic incident.” The event was a joint Japanese-South Korean press conference.

Just days before, the President of car manufacturer Toyota apologized for their handling of fatality-causing problems with their cars.  In December, Japan apologized to itself for the Pearl Harbor attack that precipitated a wider war. In May of last year, Japan apologized for the Batann Beath March in which a several thousand POWs died.

What’s with all the apologies?  Some believe Japan’s propensity to apologize due to their “bushido” or samurai culture which expects wrong-doers to publicly express their shame.   Hogwash.  they apologized for the Toyota thing because they were getting mercilessly beaten by consumer opinion  for the way they handled the Prius/Lexus problems when they first came up.

This latest apology was out of the blue. My only guess as to why now is that Japan wants something, most likely trade-related, from Korea. What exactly they want remains to be seen.  I predict we’ll know within the next few weeks or months when some new trade agreement is announced, the apology having paved the way for more intense discussions.

In case you’re wondering what Japan did to Korea during their occupation from 1910 to 1945, it’s not hard to find evidence.  Here in Ulsan, the Old Samhogyo – now just a pedestrian bridge – next to two other, wider, traffic bearing bridges,  was built in 1924 under Japanese direction using forced labor from local Koreans.  The bridge is located at the juncture of Mugeo-dong and Daun-dong along the Taewha river.

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