GFJ Commentary

August 29, 2019 

Japan Should Engage Hearts and

Minds of International Community Including Koreans

By SANADA Yukimitsu

The LSIS Co., a Korean enterprise with experiences of doing businesses in various places in Japan such as Ibaraki, Ishikawa, and Hokkaido, has announced that it has undertaken construction and management of Morioka Solar Power Plant project in Iwate Prefecture. According to LSIS, it has established a consortium with a Korean engineering firm called Dohwa Engineering and made a 10.5 billion-yen worth deal with a Japanese solar company, which includes ‘EPC’ (engineering, procurement, and construction) and ‘O&M’ (operation and maintenance) of the 50 MW generating facility to be built in Morioka City. This project, which is worth 15 billion yen in total, will begin the construction in 1.25 million square meter property in July, and is scheduled to complete in September 2021, with the capacity of power generation for 6,000 households. As the example of this case illustrates, even amid the worsening diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea, Japan is not a country to impose collective economic sanction like China does, nor its people will not get too nationalistic and engage in boycotting Korean products. And I sincerely wish to ask Korean citizens to know about this.

Meanwhile, on July 4, the Government of Japan updated the licensing policies and procedures on the export to the Republic of Korea, on such products as 3 chemical materials needed for production of semiconductors. From August 1 on, Korea will be removed from the weaver country for the export permission. Despite the negative forecast for Korea where the high tech industry is thriving with the production of electronic devices such as smartphones and semiconductors, which need the 3 materials from Japan that are regulated this time, the Government of Korea says it has well assessed the coming affect and ready to deal with the circumstance. On the other hand, Japan says this measure has nothing to do with the Korean reactions on the issues regarding ‘forced labour’ and ‘comfort women,’ but it is the appropriate security export control. Therefore, by taking what the Government of Japan stated literally, the measure is taken due to the rumors that some in ROK is helping North Korea by illegally trading with, that Japan and the United States are cooperating to counter such situation.

As ones with such understanding, the author, however, worries that the measure will be criticized internationally if Japan does not clarify better that it is the matter of security and the purpose is not to single out Korea, given that the G20 Summit just held. One of the other concerns is how much Japan is coordinating with the US on this action. If Japan acts rather unilaterally, there is always the possibility that the US will not back Japan. In any case, it needs to be followed carefully.

Additionally, boycott on Japanese products is spreading in Korea. The author believes that Japan shall not give in, but it needs to continue the discussion with the Government of Korea, with the international support, by appealing the world solemnly the facts that Japan has already fulfilled its responsibility on past wars. We have to keep in mind that ‘eye for eye’ will not only leave the issues between the two governments unsolved, but also leaving the ordinary citizens away from Japan.

(This is an English translation of the article written by SANADA Yukimitsu, a university Professor, which originally appeared on the e-forum “Giron-Hyakushutsu (Hundred Views in Full Perspective)” of GFJ on July 11, 2019.)