Normally, I try to stay out of politics on the blog because I like both cultures, and politics usually makes people (including myself) mad at each other. However, I found this really interesting article by Japan Times about the ongoing tensions between Japan and Korea.
The article showed the results of a survey done in both Japan and Korea about their perceptions of each other. Interesting bits from the article:
Around 40 percent of both the Japanese and South Korean respondents said their impression of the other country went sour in the past year.
A total of 50.3 percent of the South Korean pollees said Japan is currently is under military rule, while about 40 percent of Japanese see the current South Korea as excessively nationalistic.
but the most interesting section was this one:
The think tanks said the primary reasons behind the unfavorable cross-border images are a lack of basic understanding of each other due to inadequate direct communications between regular people and the dependence of the citizenry on their respective domestic media for information about the other country.
About 90 percent of both the South Korean and Japanese respondents said their source of information on the others country is domestic media, and TV is the single biggest news source.
In other words, most Koreans depend on Korean media, and most Japanese depend on Japanese media, and they can’t really communicate with each other directly. Because of this, they misunderstand each other, and develop a negative image.
A year ago, I stopped reading/watching American news because I noticed that American news was biased toward America. I know, that seems obvious. But I never noticed this until I lived in Ireland and read Irish news instead of American news. They’re both English-language media, and talked about the same international events, but the tone and how they described this was different. Similarly, reading a BBC article about something is different than MSNBC. So, to get a different opinion about America and American politics, I started reading non-US sources in English. Sometimes, I also read Japanese news too (which taught me a lot about how Americans and the military are perceived abroad).
Also, I’ve seen Japanese and Korean friends here talk with each other in English about politics and history, and the discussions are very open and friendly. They don’t get angry with each other, and afterwards, they’re still friends. Because they can communicate directly, it’s much easier to express views without being frustrated at each other. They may not completely agree, but that’s normal. I have good friends who have very different political views than me. My own wife and I have different political/historical views sometimes.
But it seems like the first step to resolving a problem is to communicate directly with someone. Don’t let the problem fester.