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    Heard around the neighborhood

    Today the meeting was between Koizumi and the ROK’s President Roh:

    On the evening of 18 November, Prime Minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi met with South Korean President Mu-Hyon Roh in Pusan for approximately 30 minutes. The President expressed strong opposition to “the pilgrimages by the Prime Minister and multiple other politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine,” which are “a provocation to Korea.” The Prime Minister once again explained, “Those pilgrimages represent both a self-examination with respect to [Japanese conduct during] the war and a gesture of respect to those who died.” However, the argument established no common ground; the planned visit by President Roh to Japan within the year could not be agreed upon.

    For this region, that’s relatively mellow, though most of the serious animosity usually isn’t vented in face-to-face meetings. Of course, heads of state in this part of the world have a habit of refusing to visit each other…well, to visit Japan. (Balloon-Juice had a post the other day that made a few not-bad points about the dynamic between us and the PRC but struck me as a little bit flibbertigibbety and too-touchy about what constitutes a serious diplomatic insult in these parts.)

    So Japan has managed to alarm both of its closest neighbors with which it has strong economic ties. Of course, there doesn’t seem to have been anything from North Korea, but just you wait: the UN, presumably anxious to quell rumors that it thinks it was rather charming of the DPRK to kidnap fifteen Japanese nationals from their native beaches, condemned the late-70s abductions yesterday. Or maybe it was the day before–you know, all those UN announcements that we should play nice tend to run together. Kim’s bound to have a reaction to that.

    2 Responses to “Heard around the neighborhood”

    1. Joel says:

      If I remember correctly, Koizumi’s response to Chinese criticism of an earlier Yasukuni visit was that such visits were “an internal matter”–precisely China’s response to criticisms of its own saber-rattling over Taiwan.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Exactly. Everything around here is an internal matter right up to the point it gives one of the neighbors an excuse to dredge up old hostilities.

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