Both newspapers carried a big picture of people celebrating the occasion on the front page. The Korea Herald carried an article (Reuter) “Roh urges Japan to atone for atrocities” on page 3 of March the 2, 2007 issue. Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was quoted as saying the following.
“Japan may try to cover the sky with its hand, but were able to confirm once again that the international community does not forgive the atrocities committed by imperial Japan.”
“We hope that Japan will not try to glorify or justify a mistaken past but instead show sincerity by following conscience and the international community’s generally accepted precedent.”
“Recently at a U.S. lower house hearing on comfort women, there was vivid testimony by elderly women who had to endure hardship and persecution beyond any human imagination.”
“Now we have no choice but to work together to contribute peace and prosperity of ‘Northeast Asia.’”
Because my trip to Seoul was only a one night/two day trip, I was in a hotel near Kansai/Osaka airport on Friday night, March 2nd. I purchased a copy of Asahi Shimbun, a rather leftist, but in my view, a populist paper, to see how the news was dealt with. The paper, the 13th edition, only carried two very small articles of Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Siozaki’s comments on the “comfort women” (see below) and Roh’s adress. On the former issue, he was quoted as saying “much of the U.S. resolution is not based on objective facts.” He was also quoted:“we regard the president’s address as one that stresses the importance of the relation of the two countries.” Regarding the issue of comfort women, he only mentioned, according to the paper, Korea has different views and some of the words in the address were ‘thorny’.”
In my home today, I learned that Mainichi Simbun, which I like and subscribe to, gave a larger article on the second page on Friday, and the consequent report on Sunday, today. But the articles were not as large as those of Korean newspapers.
The Japan Times, which I purchased on my way home from Tokyo (I needed to go from Seoul to Tokyo via Osaka before I came home in Hiroshima), carried a relatively large article (Associated Press) on the first and the second pages, carrying a witness of Yasuji Kaneko, 87, an ex-Japanese soldiers about the rape he himself committed together with other Japanese soldiers.
As you see, there is a huge gap between Japanese media and English media. Once again, I realized that I cannot satisfy myself with news provided by Japanese media alone. If only to know about Japan itself, you need another language other than Japanese.