All tagged japan

An Uncomfortable Past

Pundits list South Korea’s close economic ties with China and need for China’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea as possible reasons for this unprecedented closeness. But another factor unrelated to the economy or security is likely prompting this intimacy—namely, the two countries’ strong sense of solidarity as victims of Japanese imperialism. Beginning in 2013, the tension between South Korea and Japan over unresolved historical controversies has risen, culminating in the suspension of dialogue between the highest-level leaders.

A Mukden in the Making

Let’s remember, though, what September 18th is the anniversary of. The Mukden Incident was a contrived pretext for expanding Japan’s empire into what had until then been Chinese territory. What we are seeing now are the first rumblings of a rising China looking to throw its newfound wealth and power around.

Although the worst has arguably passed at Fukushima, the dangers posed by Japan’s recent nuclear disaster have not yet passed. As the world watched with bated breath, a catastrophic nuclear meltdown was closely averted, but only by pouring tons of seawater into the reactors and hoping for the best. Recently, aftershocks of magnitudes reaching 7.1 threatened to destabilize the nuclear reactors and create fissures in the containment, releasing toxic water in the surrounding environs. The worst may be over, but the story hardly ends here.

“This is a historic election,” pronounced the morning newscaster. “This country is going to change,” announced a political leader. He posed in front of campaign posters that read, “This is change we can believe in.” To an American audience, these phrases would immediately conjure up images of President Barack Obama’s election in November 2008. But here they referred to Japan’s lower house elections on August 30 2009, leading to Yukio Hatoyama’s victory on September 16 as the new prime minister.