Korean Unification and Nationalism

- Can Korean Nationalism after Unification be a Threat to Japan?

1. What are the general attitudes of Japan and Korea toward around Korean Unification

Korean Views

A. The present situation:

In Korea it is believed that Japan is "the country which is most distrustful of Korean unification in the world" . However, it is still believed that "Japan should support Korean unification".

B. The short-range view:

Widespread recognition of the great cost of unification

- Koreans expect Japanese aide

C. The long-range view:

The goal is a "powerful unified Korea" which can be a match for Japan

cf. the recognition A derives from the recognition C.

It is believed that "Because powerful unified Korea can become a threat to Japan, Japan probably does not want unification to occur".

Japanese View

A. The present situation

The general indifference toward Korean unification, inclination for states quo, and generally limited concern for Korea

B. The short-range view

Fears of the confusion which will accompany its unification

- refugees, political disequilibrium in East Asia

"Will Korea turn its domestic anxiety toward outside, especially Japan ?"

C. The long-range view

If the Korea thinks that its unification is a chance for it to be a powerful state which can match Japan, and Japanese are afraid that a unified Korea may be a threat to Japan, then, Korean unification can really intensify the tension between Japan and Korea.

2. 'Small state's nationalism' of Korea

- The logic of the Korean nationalism (1)

One characteristic of the Korean nationalism is the coexistence of

(1) Its powerful self-assertion, and,

(2) Their recognition that Korea is a powerless "small country" in the world.

- The logic of the Korean nationalism starts from these presuppositions.

(How can the "small country" survive in the world?)

The logic is,

a. "Korea is a small country."

b. "It is difficult to solve international problems for Korea independently because it is powerless."

c. "It is a duty of major powers to help such small countries".

d. "Therefore, the United States and Japan ,as major powers, must support Korea."

e. "It is undoubted right to ask them for aide."

Cf. Syngman Rhee

As long as they start the logic of Korean nationalism from these presumptions, nationalism can hardly be an actual threat to Japan.

Because according to their logic, "small country" can never much a "major power".

Under the turmoil which would follow after its unification, it would be also difficult to change these presumptions for Korean people.

3. Who will shoulder the cost of the unification?

- The logic of the Korean nationalism (2)

(1) 'Small country's nationalism' - Major powers should shoulder the cost

(2) Korean understanding of the history around its unification

The logic on Japanese responsibility

A. If Japan surrendered before USSR declared war against Japan, Korea would not be divided.

B. Without Japanese rule of Korean peninsula, there would be no occupation of the Allied Forces, and the divide of Korean peninsula.

(3) Korean understanding of laws

Law must always embody justice. - The East Asian consciousness of laws

- If not embodying "justice", as Korean's see it, the law can be easily overruled.

Cf. (3) can be connected with (1) and (2).

As long as the belief that the major powers or Japan to shoulder the cost is considered an "undoubted right" by Korean, from their point of view, whatever "law" we enact with them, it might be considered meaningless.

4. The conclusion

1) Korean nationalism would never be an actual threat to Japan.

2) However, as for the distribution of the cost of the unification, it seems to be inevitable that a strong claim would be made by Korean government to Japan. This can significantly heighten the tension between two countries much.

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