Why can't Japan be more like South Korea?

This is the title of an article from the Japan Times. While I can’t say that I totally agree with it, I am still quite surprised that the Japan Times even let it see print.

The article suggests that while Japan has lead Asia for so long, they could learn a few things from Korea. Usually the feeling towards Korea in Japan is one of superiority, even if whoever is making the opinions doesn’t actually come out and say it, the opinion pieces I see are nothing but critical accounts of Korea’s government or corporate infrastructure, all the while praising something about Japan to show why it is better. Granted this article isn’t written by Japanese, but it’s interesting that the Japan Times, Japan’s English language face to the world, would allow something like this to be presented.

Why don’t you totally agree?

Well, the article praises the fact that many of Korea’s leaders in society are foreign educated as a Korean strength, while in Japan, being foreign educated is actually a setback. It may be true that it’s a setback in Japan, but in Korea, one could suggest that the main reason why a foreign education is seen in such high esteem is because Korean universities by and large (with the exception of the SKY Universities and KAIST) are seen as inferior.

I also don’t think the article stressed the negatives of Japan’s colonial era on Korea. Sure, it didn’t come out and say that it was all positive, but in an article that is intended to praise Korea, saying that the legacy of Japanese colonialism is still felt leads the reader to assume that it was positive. But I digress…

I am somewhat proud of Japan that it is allowing pieces critical of itself to be printed in English media. If only the Korea Times and Korea Herald would print such stories critical of Korea, because as amazing as this country is, it seems as if anyone not Korean is critical of Korea, they will be attacked by Korean pride. If anyone Korean is critical of Korea, then the argument is swept under a rug when it comes to English media.

I’d like to see more discourse between Japan and Korea on a lot of issues. This article isn’t either the start or the end, but it kind of stands out.

(Credit to Ask a Korean for posting the article, thus making me aware of it.)


5 Responses to “Why can't Japan be more like South Korea?”

  1. Yeah, the article was pretty much praising Korea. There are a lot of aspects Japan is ahead of us in terms of technology, government and etc. But, still Korea is growing rapidly though. Its just that we just need to push ourselves a bit harder.

    I think Korea and Japan will benefit a lot if they worked with each other.

  2. the truth is not to think or to comment on this article, but the only thing I can say is that history is written by the victors

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