|Crown Princes of Japan & Korea|
That is essentially what seems to be at the root of the on-going problems between Japan and Korea. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the populations of the two countries view the war in very different ways. In Korea, it is pretty simple and there is very little diversity of opinion on the subject; the Japanese were the bad guys. In Japan, however, things are not so simple. Many people don’t think about the war and don’t really care to. They have other priorities and this group, in my view, seems to be the majority. However, there is another group that has adopted the self-hating attitude of the liberal west that thinks Japan should be constantly apologizing and should expunge all remnants of the Empire of Japan that existed prior to 1945. This crowd is, not surprisingly, very well represented in the media and education. Finally, there is another group in Japan that takes the other extreme which does not want to apologize for anything because they firmly believe that Japan has never done anything wrong to anyone in their entire history and they focus on the period including and leading up to World War II in particular. This is the group that is most antagonistic in regards to Korea in this case.
|call for Japan-Korea teamwork|
|Targeted Japanese naval flag|
|Prince Yi Wu of Korea|
Of course, this does not mean that all Koreans were happy about their situation or supportive of the Japanese war effort. No doubt many volunteered simply to raise their social status, to have a regular salary and employment and so on. Yet, there were doubtless those who were truly loyal to the Empire of Japan as there had always been a segment of the Korean population that favored the annexation of Korea by Japan. There was no consensus on this issue just as there was never such a consensus in virtually any such similar colonial relationship. This is partly why the level of antagonism between Korea and Japan stands out so much because there are very few similar examples one could point to of relations being so bad between a former colonial subject and colonial master, even in cases in which colonial rule lasted for centuries. There may be little love lost between countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom or Mexico and Spain but their leaders do talk to each other, they do meet and cooperate and are not consumed by arguments over historical guilt or innocence.
|Nationalist activists in Japan|
|Nationalist activists in Korea|