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Dokdo row concerns Japanese here

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Published : 2010-04-06 06:53
Updated : 2010-04-06 06:53

Community wary of aggravating bilateral relations


With the sovereignty dispute over Dokdo stokes fierce anti-Japan sentiment among Koreans, many Japanese living here are wary of adding fuel to the row.
Nobukatsu Amari, 26-year-old Japanese man who has just finished his studies at a university here and is set to go home, says that every time he watches TV these days, he feels sorry for both countries.
"This year was meant to be a landmark year for Japan-Korea friendship but it is stained like this," he said. This year is the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the countries and is slated to be celebrated as Korea-Japan Friendship Year.
After the Dokdo dispute surfaced, he has been asked numerous times by his Korean friends and acquaintances, "What`s gotten into Japanese people?" It was usually as a joke, but a couple of times it was meant seriously.
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Mitsunori Fujisawa, a Seoul resident for more than 10 years, had another reason to be worried about the current situation.
"Children were told by their teachers (at a Japanese international school in Seoul) not to speak Japanese aloud in public or behave in a way that might provoke their Korean friends," said the 44-year-old father of two, who teaches Japanese at a private language institute in Seoul.
While agreeing that the anger Korean people are now expressing toward Japan is worrying, he did not hesitate to say, "Japan should drop this immediately. Japanese have done wrong in the first place."
However, a Japanese businessman identified as Takase, said Koreans seem to be getting too emotional.
"If Dokdo is, as the Korean government says, under `effective control` of Korea, then why make such a big fuss over Japan`s `groundless` claim? I think the mass media, both in Korea and Japan, is to blame.
"Most Japanese people don`t know about or are not interested in the Takeshima issue. It`s only those in that area (of Shimane Prefecture)," he said.
Despite boiling tension behind the hustle and bustle of downtown Seoul, some Japanese tourists whom The Korea Herald spoke to in Myeong-dong - one of the most popular shopping area for Japanese tourists - seemed to be neither affected nor aware of the issue.
Ami Ono, a 19-year-old student from Fukuoka University who was on a three-day tour to Seoul, said she was just surprised to hear about what`s happening between Korea and Japan.


"I don`t know much about Takeshima. I`m surprised, really (to hear that Korean people are that upset,)" she said.
As an ardent fan of Korean TV dramas, she said, "Don`t be too upset about it. Let`s be friends."
(milaya@heraldcorp.com)


By Lee Sun-young

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