Japanese academics are urging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to scrap its retaliatory export restricitons against South Korea.
More than 70 academics, journalists and civic activists in Japan signed a statement titled 'Is South Korea's an enemy of Japan?' imploring Abe to lift any economic retaliation against Seoul and as of today, more than 8-thousand Japanese have signed the online petition.
Spearheading the movement is a historian and Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, Haruki Wada.
I had a chance to speak with him earlier and started by asking him about this petition.
Those of us who are gravely concerned about the current South Korea, Japan relations came up with this statement to appeal to the Japanese government, the media, and the Japanese people.
Since we opened online petitioning on July 26, some 8-thousand people have signed so far and I have no doubt that more people will continue to join.
We're preparing for a mass rally and also working to have it publishd on major Japanese dailies so that we can garner more support from the Japanese public.
Wada Haruki is one of the world's leading scholars of Northeast Asian history, more specifically, modern history of Korea and Japan. I asked the specialist of decades for his assessment of the current relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
The sentiment here in Japan is that Japan, South Korea relations have never been worse. Japan
refuses to come face to face with South Korea and avoids to meet or talk with the South Korean president.
The bigger problem is latest survey results that show over 50-percent of the Japanese people think they have no reason to be against the government's export curbs on semi-conductor materials to South Korea.
At the core this problem is, of course, the Japanese government's incorrect perspective of history; the absence of a strongly established nationwide feeling of remorse for its colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Haruki Wada also told us of a recent university lecture he had in Tokyo where two out of three questions he received were based on belief that South Korea was to blame for the latest trade row between the two countries. He blamed this to incorrect information fed to the public.
So, does he have a prescription to resolve the ongoing row between Seoul and Tokyo?
Basically, what's critical at this point is for Japan to recognize and voice out that there are still many Japanese who do recognize South Korea as a valuable neighbor and do feel remorse for
Japan's past colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Most problems that arise between Japan and South Korea stem from Japan's historical wrongdoings.
So, it's absolutely vital at this point for those ordinary Japanese who feel this way to voice out their opinions and urge the government to change its South Korea policy, accordingly.
That must first start with Japan squarely facing history. We cannot solve any current issue without the Japanese people, themselves, first clearly understanding and acknowledging Japan's historical deeds and reflect upon Japan's painful colonization of Korea.
This is not for the sake of the South Korean people, but for the Japanese people themselves.
It's for the sake of Japan to correctly face history so that the people of Japan can come to peace with themselves and live in peace with the rest of the world.
Haruki Wada will be in South Korea today to receive this year's Manhae Grand Prize for Peace.
The Manhae Prize was created in memory of Manhae, Han Yong-woon, a Korean poet and anti-Japanese independence activist.
Of being chosen as the recipient, Wada said although grateful, he cannot take the award with pure joy.
The ONLY way to resolve issues and improve Japan, South Korea relations is for the people of Japan to realize that what's critical is their correct view and acknowledgment of Japan's historical wrongdoings to Korea.
The problem here is Japan and if it can't come to terms with that, no future relations is possible with South Korea.