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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject JPI PeaceTalk with Yukio Hatoyama, Former Japanese Prime Minister.
Author JPI  (admin)
File
  Yukio_Hatoyama.JPG  (27KByte)
2020-02-07 오전 10:30:08


 


Question 1: There is no sign yet of improvement of Korea-Japan ties that has degenerated to the worst possible state. As a senior leader in East Asia, what kind of advice would you like to give to the leaders of the two countries?


I’m not sure if my advice can be conveyed to them, but I would like to ask them to hold more summit talks whenever they face thorny issues. Top leaders or foreign ministers would not hold talks when the ties were strained, but they have to be more proactive to solve problems at such times. What is most required is their will to see each other more often and discuss the fundamental issues. First of all, I would like to say that the Japanese government has to look squarely at the past issues in a humble manner, admit to and apologize, if necessary, for the past wrongdoings.



Question 2: As I totally agreed with the East Asian community initiative of your government, I felt truly sorry that you have resigned before accomplishing your vision. After that, amid the confrontation between the Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy of the U.S. and Japan, and the One Belt, One Road initiative of China, the Asian countries are forced to side with one or the other. As a proponent of the East Asian community, what do you think about the status quo of East Asian regionalism? Is the initiative to bring Korea, Japan and China together no longer possible?


I think, on the contrary, that it is about time now to push ahead with the East Asian community. The U.S. and China now surely seem to be competing for regional leadership. However, I do not think they are doing so, because Chinese President Xi Jinping repeatedly said to me, “The Belt and Road is not an imperialist plan. Chinese people have no DNA for imperialism or invasion.” I have often been misunderstood, but I believe that the intrinsic nature of the Belt and Road initiative is to build peace, since President Xi cited peace as the primary purpose. In that sense, I think it is never desirable for the U.S., India and Japan to propose the Indo-Pacific initiative in opposition to the Chinese initiative for a confrontation with China. On the contrary, we must build a relationship in which China, India and Japan cooperate, instead of confronting, with one another. It is no exaggeration to say that the Belt and Road initiative embraces these countries. Japan also promised to cooperate with the initiative through third countries when then Chinese premier Li Keqiang visited Japan. I think it is important for Korea and Japan to strengthen their cooperation with China on the Belt and Road initiative, and Japan had better change its position of relying too heavily on the U.S. The initiative of the East Asian community is important, in that it provides room for Japan, Korea and China to discuss how to cooperate with one another and sort out their issues. I believe we should stop being fettered by the past and actively pursue the East Asian community initiative.



Question 3: There are still many in Korea who are concerned about the possible move of the Abe government to revise the Peace Constitution for military buildup. What would you like to say to the Koreans concerned about the potential military buildup of Japan?


Prime Minister Abe went aboard the ships of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and US Marine Corps as he welcomed President Trump. I think it was meant to show off the U.S.-Japan alliance, but I doubt whether it is desirable for Japan and the U.S. to give the impression that they are strengthening their military power, because this behavior might be misunderstood as a Japanese pursuit of military power under the sponsorship of the U.S.

As regards the constitutional amendment issue, however, I would like to assure the Korean people of the common sense of the Japanese people. Even if the Japanese government tries to amend the constitution, more than half of the people are against it, now. In addition, I don’t believe that the proponents of amendment to Article 9 of the Constitution would take two-thirds of the seats in the upcoming election of the House of Representatives. Therefore, I would say that it is impossible to propose a constitutional amendment under the Abe regime. In other words, no matter what idea Abe might hold, no constitutional amendment is possible under the Abe government. Please rest assured that the majority of Japanese citizens are still opposed to amending Article 9 of the Constitution to make Japan capable of engaging in war.



Question 4: South Korea is now forced to choose whether to side with the U.S. or China amid their rivalry. On the other hand, Japan earlier declared its share of a common destiny with the U.S. As ex-Japanese prime minister, what advice would you give South Korea, beset by the U.S. and China?


It is understandable that Korea now hesitates between China and the U.S., which, I think, is rather a desirable position for Korea. Japan is too dependent on the U.S. because Japan has rebuilt its economy with U.S. support following World War II. In particular, I think Trump’s recent visit to Japan demonstrates excessive dependence of the Abe government on President Trump. As a result, Japan has become a country capable of war and a country that can assist any party in war, and I think this increases Japan’s risk of being involved in an American war. I personally think that Japan should be free from the U.S. I think it will be very difficult for Japan to make such a choice, but we should try to deactivate and reduce the U.S. military bases on and around Okinawa.

The inter-Korean and the U.S.-North Korea summits seem to be making gradual progress in denuclearizing the North. Even if complete denuclearization is far away, I think it is important to edge toward it. It would also reduce Japan’s reliance on U.S. troops and make it possible to demand a reduction of the U.S. bases in Japan. I think South Korea will likewise be able to curtail its dependence on the U.S. by improving inter-Korean relations. Earlier, I heard that President Trump raised the issue of the withdrawal of the US forces from Korea. I hope Korea will explore ways to do this. Wouldn’t it be important for Korea and Japan to a cooperative relationship with the U.S. and China by keeping distance from both of them? In this context, I am very sorry that the relationship between Korea and Japan remains extremely abnormal at this time when they should rather strengthen their cooperation.



Question 5: When you were in office, you actively sought to give foreigners local suffrage, but failed to submit the bill to the effect. However, granting suffrage to foreigners living in Japan is a task that should be accomplished if Japan opts to become a multicultural society. What efforts do you think are needed for this?


As to the issue, I am very sorry that the government of the Democratic Party failed to introduce the suffrage due to its incompetence. Unfortunately, there seems to be less voice for local suffrage among Koreans in Japan. I feel very sorry for this. It seems that they are giving up on it, thinking it is impossible under the regime of the Liberal Democratic Party, and I think the hate speech (against Koreans) amid the abnormal relations between Japan and Korea have exerted some influence upon them.

However, I hope that Koreans in Japan would continue to demand for local suffrage of foreign residents. Given the present situation in Japan, I understand that they have difficulties in calling for it. It wouldn’t be easy. Under the current Abe government, there is no sign of a breakthrough to the issue of local suffrage of Koreans in Japan, but I think it is important to continue to raise our voices for it. As you said, the world has become a place where people of many backgrounds live together. Globalization is about creating a world in which people from different countries can coexist in one country. At this time, it is utterly regrettable that the local suffrage issue has not been resolved due to history issues. I wish I could solve this issue in cooperation with the Koreans in Japan.



Question 6: Lastly, would you please tell us what you expect from the Korean government, people or the Jeju Forum for recovery of normal ties of Korea and Japan and future-oriented bilateral relationship?


It is very important for the two countries to a future-oriented relationship. At the same time, it is true that past issues must be overcome to build future-oriented relationships. Because Japan has a lot of responsibility for the past history issues, I think Japan should take the initiative in resolving them.

Moreover, it is a matter of urgency for the two countries to normalize their strained ties, and to do so, they would have to hold summit talks more often and direct discussions whenever thorny issues emerge.

I think it’s meaningful that the world leaders gather in a single space like the Jeju Forum to discuss pending issues. I sincerely hope the Jeju Forum would help the two countries improve bilateral relations and guide world citizens toward peace.