The Big Squabble

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThis whole idea could not be in more bad taste. In Japan there is a place called Sado Island. This island was once the site of an active mining operation for extracting gold. In fact, the Sado mines was one of the largest places in the world for mining gold ore. The mines had been in use for over 400 years before it was completely shut down in 1989 because no significant amount of gold will ever be found again in the place. The mines have become a museum site with information about how the place was opened and how with modern technology successive Japanese governments were able to extract gold ever deeper underground.

This year, the Japanese government had petitioned UNESCO (United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to officially declare the Sado mines a World Heritage site. There is just one problem. South Korea has condemned the move. Why? Because before and during World War II the Japanese military had used Korean workers as slave labor in the Sado mines. Well over 1,000 Koreans were used as slave labor in the mines and they were not paid and not given any legal rights or protections. How many Koreans died there we will never know, and no mention is made of Koreans being forcibly used in the mines by the museum. Like so many things between Japan and South Korea, this is a sore point in their tumultuous history. The United States has asked the two countries to try and resolve this latest issue through diplomatic means.

It does not look likely that either Japan or South Korea will resolve this or any other issue through diplomatic dialog. The Japanese government has not done too well in dealing with issues from World War II, especially how Japan ruled the Korean peninsula and the use of Koreans as slave labor. The only thing that I can be assured of is that they will not resort to military means. However large their armed forces are, both sides know that an armed conflict would be devastating to both countries and resolve nothing. Even if they are not talking, the only guarantee is that they will not start shooting. In this world where we see a number of countries ready to use military force and war to resolve issues, this is not the case here. There is in so many ways no love lost here between Japan and South Korea, but at least war is not inevitable.

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