Koreans, Taiwanese, and Japanese views of each other....

This is going to be a complicated thread, so I’m going to try to break it up into several different smaller threads since I know one subject will grab everyone’s attention and the other questions won’t get answered.

The heart of my question is this: Why do Taiwanese people view Japanese people and culture so much more favorably than Koreans?

I’ve been told that it’s because, at the time the Japanese took over the two places, the Koreans were already a defined people with a national identity and history, whereas Taiwan had yet to be unified. Therefore, while the different aboriginal groups in Taiwan and the scatterings of Chinese-origin farmers tried to mount various attacks on the Japanese, they were comparatively easy to put down. On the other hand, the Koreans were much more unified which made the fighting drag out and become much more brutal.

In the end, as the explanation goes, the Japanese didn’t have to be as brutal towards the Taiwanese, and eventually became the first to unify the entire island. The Japanese wanted to use Taiwan as a model for the rest of world to see that they too could be an effective imperial power. So, not only did they unify the people, but they built up the islands infrastructure.

This difference, therefore, is the reason that Taiwanese tend to view the Japanese in a favorable light while the harsh treatment of the Koreans caused them to resent the Japanese colonial powers.

Alas, I know this is not the whole story, which is why I’m asking. Though I’m quite familiar with Taiwanese history, I’m not so well-versed on Korean history. I’ve been told that many political parties, for instance, in Korea use demonization of the Japanese as a tool to rally people together. According to this belief, the Korean education system instills Koreans with an unrealistic view of Japan and their actions in Korea. I’m not saying that people who profess this belief to me believe that the Japanese are innocent of wrongdoing in Korea, but that it is intentionally exaggerated in present curriculum.

I also want to know how Japanese people view Koreans and Taiwanese in light of their past colonization? For instance, when I was in Japan last week, one of my good friends (who’s Japanese) spoke of how she was worried about the construction of a new Korean Cultural Center near her apartment. I thought this was strange because one of our best friends (from when we all met as students in France) is Korean. Yet, my Japanese friend was worried about an influx of Koreans in her neighborhood, saying that it could put her in danger.

Related thread: The Korean heritage of Japanese people and the relation between Japanese colonization and the use of hangul.

It’s not just WW2. The Japanese have been messing with Korea for centuries.

Taiwan in 1898 didn’t have a strong unified Chinese or Taiwanese identity. Elderly Taiwanese still largely speak Japanese and have a good outlook toward Japan. (the Mainlanders in Taiwan are generally the opposite.)

regarding Japanese culture, Japan has a somewhat similar Asian culture (if there is such a beast). I think that Taiwanese of both the pre war and say 1960’s and later generation, generally have a positive view towards Japan. That Japan was a good model that was advanced but not too advanced, that was different but not too different, etc.

Korea - I kinda know the outline but leave it to other Dopers to fill that in.

As far as Korean attitudes toward the Japanese, there was a pretty big invasion under Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the late 1500s that would justify a good chunk of the animosity. Throw in thirty-five years of fairly brutal occupation in living memory, some ongoing territorial disputes (Liancourt Rocks / Dokdo), and you can see where the hatred comes from.

Yes, I see where it comes from, but I’m asking (1) why do Koreans view the Japanese so much more negatively than the Taiwanese do and (2) is the truth of atrocities incurred by the Japanese towards the Koreans used as a political tool and exaggerated to fit that purpose?

As to the first, I offered the difference in political structure beforehand between Taiwan and Korea, which China Guy echoed. What I didn’t consider were the previous Japanese invasions into Korea.

Historically, there was a lot of aggression going both ways between Korean and Japan. The southern coast of Korea based many pirates which preyed upon Korean, Japanese and Chinese ships. Japan would attack these pirates and the fighting would often spread beyond the immediate areas.

The Koreans allied with Mongolians and supplied most of the ships used by the Mongols in their invasion attempts of Japan. The noble families of Korea and Japan often exchanged daughters to strengthen alliances. In other words, the relationship between Korea and Japan was similar to that of any large nations in close proximity. Compare with Britain and France.

The current animosity is due to the cultural genocide Japan attempted during the colonization period. Koreans were prohibited from using their language. They were forced to take Japanese names. Koreans feel that Japan continues to refuse to take responsibility for atrocities committed. It’s the lack of apology that aggravates the Koreans as much as the original outrages.

As to why Taiwanese don’t have strong feelings, I don’t know their situation well.

Certainly politicians will use such things to score political points and I am unsure how much could be considered water under the bridge and just move on if politicians did not keep such things alive.

That said Japanese war atrocities are manifest and frankly worse (see Unit 731 as an example) in most cases than anything the Germans did although at some point saying who was “worse” just seems silly.

I think part of the problem is Japan largely refuses to admit to any war atrocities and apologize much less make any reparations or even return Korean cultural items pillaged during that period. Compare that to Germany who have worked diligently to admit to what they did and be apologetic about it as well as make various amends.

As such this remains a sore spot to the Koreans.

First, anecdotally: when I visited Korea in 1984 and took a tour to Panmunjom (sp?), the tour bus guide spent quite a lot of time talking about how brutal the Japanese had been during their occupation up through WW2, including alleged efforts to “eradicate” Korean language and culture. If the stuff that tour guide said was only half true, I can see why the locals would be very angry still 60+ years later. Like someone said, this is still in living memory for a lot of people.

Second, anecdotally: my continuing exposure to Japanese people and culture since 1980 leads me tp say that the ethnic prejudice among Japanese against Koreans seems to me to be similar to some of the kneejerk racism against blacks and latinos that still exists among some people in the U.S. Japanese seem to regard Koreans as low, dirty, poor and criminal-minded, which tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy to some degree, because that’s the way they are treated. So imagine you live in some old-line toney white upperclass neighborhood and you hear that a Latino neighborhood center is going to be established in the next block. If you have those kinds of opinions about Latinos, you might be afraid for property values and/or personal safety. It’s a particularly pernicious and persistent form of ignorance, and there seems to be very little in Japan that I’ve seen that’s fighting it. I remember a proposal a few years back (I don’t know the outcome) to require ID cards with fingerprints only for “foreigners”, which would include persons of Korean ancestry no matter how many generations they had been in Japan. This is one of those dirty ugly secrets of the land of cherry blossoms and saké. I find many things about Japanese people and culture to be admirable, but not the insularity and smugness that leads to these kinds of prejudice and groupthink.

I think the first question has already been answered here. As for the second - I don’t think the truth needs to be exaggerated to be used as a political tool. And of course it is, just the way 9/11 has been used in the US for similar purposes.

I wish I could think of a specific example, but I never was much interested in Korean politics. And upon reflection the more recent political outrages have been towards the US than towards Japan.

Japan paid $500 million in reparations to South Korea in 1965 as part of the normalizing of relations between the two countries, and various prime ministers have issued specific and detailed apologies to Korea for Japanese atrocities. Certainly Japanese society should do a lot more to acknowledge their crimes in Asia (though I think that ship has sailed), but the “Japanese has never even apologized” meme really needs to die.

To the OP: the colonial experiences of both countries was very different; Taiwan was administered by the Japanese bureaucracy, while Korea was placed under military administration after the assassination of Ito Hirobumi (who, ironically, had accepted his position in the hopes of making things easier for the Koreans). As you can imagine, Taiwan had an easier time.

See, Koreans drive like this, while Taiwanese drive like THIS…

Yeah, Japan’s apologized, FWIW. I think the biggest issues right now are concerning the “comfort women” (personally I think the Japanese government is just waiting it out until they all die, which won’t be long) and the inaccurate history textbooks Japan keeps producing (although Korea really shouldn’t be throwing stones, me thinks). There’s always a stir when the prime minister visits the shrines of Japanese war criminals, of course. And there was the whole argument over the “Sea of Japan” versus “East Sea” thing. (I think there’s a group devoted to getting that changed on mass-produced maps.)

Specific and detailed apologies? Most apologies have been of the “we regret” sort with no mention of specific acts. Indeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the existence of Comfort Women. And $500 million? That is laughable and as far as I know nothing was paid to victims but rather to countries.

Compare that to Germans which have paid $70 billion to Israel alone and many billions more to Holocaust survivors (and is still paying out on that). Germany also explicitly admits their involvement and teaches it in their schools as well as helping in tracking down war criminals (among other things).

Color me unimpressed by Japan’s efforts and they have every bit as much to answer for as the Germans did.

Japan has done some, but Koreans do not feel like it’s been enough. Japan needs to apologize more; the injured party decides when it’s been enough. And when prominent Japanese politicians have recently said things like “comfort women were not coerced” or Japanese textbooks stress the benefits of colonization over the drawbacks, it aggrieves Koreans even more. They feel Japan just doesn’t really mean it.

Note that Koreans distinguish between Japan and individual Japanese, at least the ones I know in America. They realize they have more in common with each other than they do with Americans. Their governments’ actions don’t hamper goodwill at the personal level.

On preview: I see others have responded as well.

That argument amuses me. “East Sea” sounds so parochial in English. (Does anyone other than Europeans call the North Sea that?) They’d have better luck pushing “Korean Sea” or “Sea of Korea”.

Yeah, but that’s what we call it in Korean. East Sea, that is. The argument being made is that it was originally called the East Sea before the Japanese called it the Sea of Japan. I’ve never been that interested in the whole debate, though. Maybe they could just call it “The Sea That Shall Not Be Named” and make everyone happy.

My grandmother had to watch members of her family get shot down running for their lives across one short stretch of land. She left her entire extended family behind in North Korea and when she finally got to Seoul without a single thing to call her own she was with just her brothers and sisters, still in their teens. She was never able to contact anyone in the north again. My grandfather, who also had to flee from the north, passed away fifteen years ago, without a single member of his original family beside him. What exaggeration there may be in my textbooks, none of it affects me more than knowing that my loving and hardy old grandma had to go through that. This grandma who’s a goddamn cat whisperer, still loves tending to her fields even with her bad knee, who enjoys watching sappy beyond belief Korean soap operas.

The unbelievable atrocities the Japanese have committed have been mostly swept under the rug. People just don’t know about what are possibly the most heinous deeds ever committed: the Japanese got off scot free for the crimes of Unit 731. What even more insanely frustrating is that it was MacArthur, the very same general who saved our asses in the war, who then turned right around and granted the Unit 731 ‘researchers’ immunity, in return for the results of the experiments, soaked in the tortured blood of 200,000. Yes it was a golden opportunity for the US, all that information everyone wanted but no one else was willing to go so far for. Still, it hurts. Some of the researchers were even offered cushy jobs in the United States.

Imagine if the Germans had flat out refused to admit to some of their crimes and the United States helped cover it up, much of the German population continued to believe the Jews were scum, and the German president went and prostrated himself before a shrine dedicated to Hitler every year. Imagine the Jews had to watch those lies slowly become reality–the world still spinning with complete disregard, the Holocaust survivors passing away and taking the truth with them, each successive generation of Jew more and more indifferent. Could you expect them to be satisfied with a cursory and seemingly insincere apology?

And then there’s the fact that most Koreans actually respect individual Japanese PEOPLE. There’s much for Koreans to learn from Japanese culture, and so much possibilities for cooperation between the two countries, it’s truly unfortunate there is still this enormous divide.

I guess my point after that huge tirade was… well… you can see just how fervent (ok I’ll be frank, and a touch biased) a response this subject can elicit from some Koreans. And war’s a bitch.

edit: ok it took me forever to write this (its almost 5 in the morning here, I’ve got a test tomorrow, and I spend an hour typing up a post getting progressively drunker: what the fuck’s with my priorities?) and everything I’ve said has been covered. oh well.

I was referring to statements such as Koizumi’s 2001 apology:

You might not feel them to be sincere or adequate, but they have been made.

Checking the wiki article on the treaty I find that I was off by a little; the actual amount paid was $800 million (a little over $5 billion in 2007 dollars) when the Korean government requested $324 million. It was paid at the government level, but I don’t really see what the issue is there since the reparations were to cover individual damages as well; I think the South Korean government is to blame if it didn’t pass that money on to its people.

I wasn’t trying to impress you with what the Japanese had done or to convince you that the Japanese had made just amends. I was just showing that when you said that the Japanese hadn’t made “any reparations” that you were wrong.

Koizumi’s apologies were his apologies as an individual, if I am remembering correctly, and issued without the approval of the cabinet. The government of Japan has never issued a formal apology regarding comfort women.

He said that he was making his statement as Prime Minister, which implies to me that he was acting as more than just a private individual. Why would he need approval from his ministers?