By Aya Goto for the Global Peace Foundation
As of May 10, 2022, a new president has taken office in South Korea—the country’s first government change in five years. At a significant time for the peninsula, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Japan invited Dr. Emanuel Pastreich, President of the Asia Institute, to give a webinar on April 23 to discuss “The Impact of Korean Unification on a Japan that Plays an Important Role in the International Community.”
The reunification of the two Koreas is an opportunity to create a “new” nation—something that happens only once every 100 or 500 years. According to Dr. Pastreich, however, if Japan were to consider it strictly from an economic point of view of short-term growth and consumption, this would likely lead to a “failed” unification as corporations would look to develop North Korea’s resources, export raw materials, and use cheap labor for their own profit. This will lead to a wealth gap and a severe disparity between the rich and the poor in East Asia.
In addition, many Japanese people today insist that its “Peace Constitution” (Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan) needs to be amended. Still, with international order in flux, Japan will need to reconsider diplomacy with China. As Japan and China are geopolitically inseparable, engaging in an arms race will only cause instability, especially in the short term. Instead, thinking long-term will be required to build and manage a “sound society” according to traditional Japanese thought.
In their histories, Japanese and Korean envoys engaged in deep intellectual exchange, even up to the Edo period. However, this type of dialogue has been lacking in recent diplomacy. Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China, and even Vietnam share a great deal in common. If deep dialogue can be revived with all parties based on their commonalities, discussions regarding new security in the region could constructively occur.
Japan would be able to contribute to this new security by providing medicine and agriculture creatively and constructively, which would be beneficial to the common people, not only for monetary gain. Japan can also play a very important role in creating new policies regarding technology and intelligence, something vital in today’s age of misinformation.
Playing a role in creating a new united Korea—that can be called a “success” in the long term—Japan can help bring stability to the region. This will have the potential to create a new world with a healthy society starting with East Asia—not a world of weapons and competition, but an economic society centered on the people.
Learn more about the One Korea Global Campaign.