Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Raising a Stink

You’ll recall I mentioned the island of Takeshima (known as “Tokto” to the Koreans) a while ago. Takeshima consists of two islands and some rocky reefs, and has long been a simmering territorial issue between Japan and South Korea. But lately, along with other disquieting statements and actions, Japan has suddenly started making vociferous claims on this real estate. The latest move is the passage of an ordinance (this page in Japanese) by Shimane Prefecture, the Japanese state closest to Takeshima, declaring February 22 to be “Takeshima Day.”

This had the predictable effect on the Koreans: loud objections and a notification by Kyongsangbuk-do Province, Shimane’s sister state, that it is cutting off exchanges. Originally the islands were uninhabited, but the Koreans have had people there since 1954.

So, why suddenly raise a stink over Takeshima? Combined with Japan’s other nationalistic noises, the work on rewriting the constitution to legalize Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, and even further integrating itself into the US global strategy, my guess is that it is part of a program to increase friction with certain Asian neighbors, and thereby create a boogeyman to scare the populace and facilitate changes including a political shift to the right, a bigger military, and more repressive legislation.

Time will tell how right I am.

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