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Thursday, June 02, 2005



Although I agree that there is a serious lack of trust between the Japanese and Korean coast guards, I disagree that this situation was "silly," even if the tug-o-war image seemed hilarious, at least on the surface. The situation ended, BTW, after the Japanese coast guards, pressured by politicians to end the situation in a way that will not aggravate Japan-Korean relationship, agreed to release the vessel when the captain of the ship Sinpungho admitted to the illegal activity and paid the bond of 500,000 yens. By then 6 Korean police vessels and 7 Japanese coast guard vessels were on the scene. If the coast guards were not pressured by the politicians, I believe the tug-o-war would still be going on, since they were not about to let this vessel, which had been spotted 20 times in Japanese EEZ in the past, escape.

According to Article 23 of the Convention of the High Seas 1958 (, the Japanese coast guards had the authority to arrest the vessel since the right of hot pursuit does not cease unless the vessel enters the territorial waters of another country. The tug-o-war took place 60 km off the coast of Korea, which is still outside its territorial waters (although inside its EEZ). Thus, in such a case, the Korean coast guard should have turned the vessel over to the Japanese coast guards. But it didn't. Gives you a hint why the Japanese side didn't trust its Korean counterpart to begin with. So, seen from the Japanese side, the Korean police gave protection to a suspect, and the Korean government demanded extraterritoriality, which naturally incensed the Japanese. The Japanese press coverage was critical of the Koreans, even Asahi TV which generally takes an anti-Japanese stance on Asian conflicts. The media also presented how the Korean media treated the captain like a hero, strengthening the impression that any crime committed against the Japanese is praised and glorified in Korea, North or South. I am more angered at how lamely my government handled the situation. Now, you will see more and more Korean pirate ships making a run for protection of the Korean police or navy even on high waters, and the Japanese coast guards having to stretch their resources for the pursuit. However, the impression I got from the Internet is that the anger of the average Japanese, who had previously been oblivious to Korea except for superficial objects like Yon-sama, is equally turned towards South Korea. The hostility seems to be rooted in a sense of betrayal by a country that had been considered an ally. The intent of the Japanese politicians appears to have completely backfired, at least, on the wired world. Though it seems that the Koreans are regarding this outcome as a victory, I really wonder if this suspected pirate was worth antagonizing the Japanese public for. Though the anger will probably die down in a few days, little things like these do pile up.

Little Kim

no problems if greedy Koreans would obey international laws and stop fishing in Japanese water.


I'm more worried about the hate between Korean political parties than about the problems between South Korea and Japan.

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