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Yun: Seoul uses public diplomacy to counter Japan’s rightward shift

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Thursday that Seoul has capitalized on its public diplomacy to respond to the rightward political shift and revisionist views of history in Japan that have worsened anti-Japanese sentiment here.

“Whenever we meet Japanese opposition politicians and opinion leaders who visited Korea, we have delivered our position. Diplomatic missions in Japan have also carried out a variety of public diplomacy efforts,” he said during a parliamentary audit.

“Along with our public diplomacy toward the U.S., we also think of public diplomacy toward Japan’s neighboring countries. In this respect, the public diplomacy division to be instituted within the ministry will have a big role to play.”

Japanese conservatives’ revisionist views of history that apparently gloss over the country’s wartime atrocities, and Tokyo’s pursuit of a greater military role have caused security concerns among some in Korea, and continue to worsen public resentment toward Japan, Korea’s onetime colonizer.

On a separate issue, the Foreign Ministry was criticized for giving more than 100 billion won ($83.75 million) of official development assistance to Colombia, Peru and Azerbaijan whose per-capita gross national income is nearly $8,000 each.

Rep. Kim Sung-gon of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said that the ministry should be more prudent in its execution of the ODA, and that the taxpayers’ money for the ODA should be spent on combating poverty and promoting sustainable development for underdeveloped nations.

“ODA should basically be given to the poorest or most vulnerable nations including conflict-laden states given the basic humanitarian nature of the assistance,” he said in a statement. “The support for the middle-income nations should be given in the form of technological assistance.”

Also during the parliamentary audit on the ministry, Rep. Lee Joo-young of the ruling Saenuri Party said that ministry employees delivered unpermitted lectures outside on 541 occasions for some four years, and that such lectures violated rules and regulations governing the civil servants’ code of conduct.

Lee said state auditors found that ministry officials gave lectures on 267 occasions without permission between 2011 and 2014. In 274 cases, ministry employees gave lectures without permission, but notified the ministry only after the lectures.

By Song Sang-ho