Chilly ties between Japan and South Korea

Chilly ties between Japan and South Korea

Bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea have chilled dramatically in recent years.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye said in a speech in March: "The historic dynamic of one party being a perpetrator and the other party a victim will remain unchanged even after 1,000 years have passed." Is it impossible to remove anti-Japanese sentiment from the hearts of South Korean people? This series will examine the bilateral relationship from various aspects.

The following is the first instalment.

"We will cast Japan out of Asia."

This is the strident message of the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), a South Korean civil organisation with about 120,000 members, mainly young people.

VANK also wants to call the Sea of Japan "Donghae," or East Sea, and insists that "Dokdo [Takeshima islets] is territory of South Korea."

It says such claims are "correct knowledge" and transmits these views around the world.

The organisation has compiled actions conducted by the defunct Imperial Japanese Army such as the Nanjing Incident and Bataan Death March into a video and made it available on the Internet earlier this year. The video was made in English and appears to have been designed to spread the image of an "atrocious and inhumane Japan" to the world to fuel anti-Japanese sentiment.

It is generally known that the Imperial Japanese Army killed many Chinese people in the Nanjing Incident in 1937. China says "more than 300,000" people were killed, but the basis of this figure is unclear. A Japanese historian says the number is about 40,000. The Japanese government's position is that it is "difficult to recognise a correct figure."

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