Transnational linkages for peace
Yi Kiho: I’m very honored to stand here, and thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to return, and thank you to my Nautilus colleagues. Well, my presentation will be a little bit different from in the context of the people who already presented in my session. I write to say about the Transnational Civil Society in Northeast Asia. However here I would like to mention about–at least three points before I lose the focus.
One is about is about why the Transnational Civil Society is important. The other is that it will also help the present modern state to transform to a civic state which was introduced to me 11 years ago by Professor Yoshikazu Sakamoto, and now I got some more important meaning of it, so that is one more thing. And the other one is about–what is the role of the Transnational Civil Society?
And concerning on these stories, I’d just like to start on some Korean ones, because I hear all the speakers who speak about the nuclear deterrence and nuclear weapons and nuclear issues here. So I’d like to explain more about the Northeast Asia context here.
Well I was born in 1964. It means I am 45 years old now, and my father was born in 1933, and my father’s big brother–he’s already dead– he was born in 1921. My father’s generation actually spent most of their youth time in wartime…struggling against–about any war–in Korean Civil War or International War, or World War II.
In some sense, we could say they lived in the era of states–nation states–struggling or in battle in the war. But my generation [was] usually struggling against [the] nation state–[which] was usually trying to be protected by my father’s generation. So I could say that my generation was usually living in the era of a strong state challenged by civil society–that is the present situation where I could say.
And in South Korea, or in Japan, or in North Korea, or in China, we have a very different context of civil society, as well. Such kinds of isometric situations make the civil society cooperation beyond borders very, very difficult. However I think that has very good meaning and even though it is a beginning step, it has a lot of meanings.
The reason why I just mentioned about my father’s generation is because when World War II and Korean War was over, they left very big feelings or impressions carved in their brains…in their minds. In any deterrence, the national security is the number one priority to them. And it has legitimized any war or any military force, any military expense–legitimized. This was our generations saying.
So it’s kind of some very legitimization of the strong state which also left such a kind of difference–and at the same time it gives a kind of–how do I say? –the national identity is more strong and even though the civil society grows up, the civil society is usually forced to lock in one nation state. So it was very difficult to have some transnational cooperation with each other.
For example, in early 1970’s when the Nixon Doctrine was presented, South Korea would also like to try to have some nuclear weapons and the same situation, same process is actually done in North Korea now. So we could read such things. However, the other side of my mother’s generation or some other side of the wartime, the life world is really victimized and the victimized life world is now reworded and is not well spoken to ourselves, as well.
For example, today many people mentioned about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the victims of the nuclear bomb. According to the statistics, usually we say there were 700,000 people who were victimized in Hiroshima and Nagasaki totally. However among [those] 700,000 people, about 100,000 people were Koreans who were forced to serve for the Japanese military service during World War II.
Such kind of victims were never counted, and such kind of victims were never investigated, not only the Japanese government, but also the South and North Korean governments. It was just reworded to [include] such kind of victims. It was not reworded until 1988, I remember when Roh Tae-woo became President because…
I mean in 1987, in Korea, there was a very big demonstration so actually we changed the constitutional law and we could participate in presidential election. At that time, when the people power was strong, then at last the South Korean government began to think about the victimized Japanese Koreans who are living in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
When the civil society becomes strong then the nation state really begins very little by little. So in some sense I think the growth of civil society is really important, and at the same time they can have much room to think about together such kind of things.
One more thing about the Transnational Civil Society in this area, why it is very important. I like to give you several cases. Cases according to the context of the national status as well. Actually if we could see in the long perspective a 1945 or 1950 Korean War, the war time actually gave a kind of big severance. Severance not [only] between the countries–not only the countries but also families, ideologies, religions and every severance actually a lot–every country into their own country and we are at very complete among the nation states only.
Across the borders the communication between people began actually just 10 years ago, I could say. For example the normalization between China and Korea was done in 1992, even though in 1965 Korea and Japan had a normalization process. However the people-to-people kind of exchanges were done just after the Kim Dae-jung obituary statement in 1998.
We could say only 10 years. The last 10 years were the years that we have exchanged together. So it is just the beginning step, but during the beginning step we found a lot of things. For example, if you remember the first summit meeting between Japan and North Korea, we expect a lot in 2002 when Junichiro Koizumi and Kim Jong-il made a Pyongyang statement in 2002, September 17th.
However, just after that, there comes a kidnapping in Japan, and the people who suffered most were not the North Koreans in North Korea, but North Korean people who were living in Japan–especially the students, they were always faced with some kind of terror risk, and they were threatened. At that time, who supported such kind of people?
It was actually the people who were living in Japan, the Japanese neighbors. So actually the Japanese nationalists threatened the kidnapping issue, with the kidnapping of the North Koreans by Japanese people there. However the people who protect them was also Japanese people.
So in some sense, the Transnational Civil Society linkage or some cooperation can do a lot of things which the national state cannot do. For example, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear bomb, the Japanese government did not do anything [for the Koreans] but the people who live in Nagasaki and Hiroshima made a kind of “stonewalk” in 2005.
And in 2007, we walked it together and we just build up some of our past history again to respect both histories and to make future histories. Not only for that, in the history issues the Transnational Civil Society cooperation also can help some other things.
So the last thing that I’d like to mention about, as an example, is about the comfort women which is now called the wartime sexual slavery issues. In Korea in 1991, actually the Grandmother who almost soon die, but she got the courage to say that she served as wartime sexual slavery.
And during that time, many transnational support and many transnational corporation to see about the history again and to see to reinterpret the war again was done. In 2000, in Tokyo, there was a people’s court.
The people’s court was really great because, not only North and South Korean Grandmothers, but also the Indonesian, the Philippine, in East Asia, including the Netherlands, the Grandmothers who served as these sexual slavery gathered together. Even though we did not have the legal punishment, we could get some kind of moral legitimization and that gave some pride to the Grandmothers before they are dying.
After that, such kind of event made another effort to build up transnational cooperation to build up the common textbook. In 2005 the common textbook between Japan, Korea, China was made. There was really great progress to see what happened in the last 100 years and to think about the future years again.
So such kind of Transnational Civil Society cooperation is really important and I think there will be some new kind of cooperation to respond who will stop the nuclear nukes use.
About Yi Kiho
is the Director of Nautilus Institute ARI, Seoul.
He presented this speech at a public forum on nuclear disarmament, Who Will Stop Nuclear Next Use? The forum was organized by the Nautilus Institute at RMIT. It was held on Sunday 20 September 2009 at RMIT Storey Hall.