SEOUL, April 26 (Korea Bizwire) – The Abe administration once again reaffirmed its hardline Korea policy in a diplomatic paper released yesterday in which it made a territorial claim to the South Korean island of Dokdo, while urging the next South Korean government to honor the agreement reached with the now jailed former president Park’s administration over the placement of comfort women statues.
With the Japanese government taking an inflexible stance on Korean issues as of late, the administration has experienced a welcome bump in approval ratings after a scandal involving Abe and his wife caused public sentiment to sour, and some critics are accusing the Japanese prime minister of using territorial and historical conflicts with South Korea for his own political advantage.
Though Abe has maintained right-leaning political views since he took office, his stance on Korea has become more uncompromising over the years, turning back the clock on all the progress made between South Korean and Japan with regards to territory and history.
The latest example of his shift further towards the right lies within the Abe administration’s 2017 “blue book”, a diplomatic policy report released earlier this year which claims the set of islets in the East Sea are Japanese territory both “historically and by international law”, while condemning South Korean lawmakers who visited the area last year.
Adding fuel to the fire is the growing threat from North Korea, which plays right into the hands of the Japanese right-wing and nationalist agenda to pass constitutional reforms to allow Japan to once again wage war with foreign nations, while gaining a mandate for his leadership from the public.
In a parliamentary committee session held last week, Abe said his government is working on contingency plans for a crisis situation on the Korean peninsula, referring to a potential influx of Korean refugees into Japan.
His comments came in the wake of the return of ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine to Seoul after he was recalled back in January, a decision, the Japanese government said, made to protect Japanese residents in Korea in the case of a renewal of hostilities between the two Koreas.
Another politician from the incumbent party, Hiroshi Imazu, went one step further, suggesting to the Japanese prime minister that the country needs to arm itself with weapons for preemptive strikes, as North Korea has shown signs of attacking Japan.
Amid growing concerns over North Korea, conflicts over issues such as comfort women statues are likely to see the Abe administration maintain its hawkish stance towards South Korea, putting the two countries on a collision course with each other.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)