Ichiro Ozawa and Jeju-do: "I never said Japan should buy it"

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sometimes articles in Japanese get translated badly into English so I'll make sure that doesn't happen here. There's an article in the Korea Times here about how "opposition Democratic Party President Ichiro Ozawa has floated the idea of buying South Korea's Jeju Island on the strength of the yen's rise against other currencies".

Apparently it wasn't quite as simple as that (though still a pretty silly thing to argue over). Here's what he said when talking with a reporter:

-- Former Union leader Kiyoshi Sasamori said last month when meeting with representatives "buy up Jeju-do since the yen is so high right now" in the introduction, and is that really...
Hm, what's Jeju-do?
-- Jeju-do, in Korea.

"I didn't say that. Well, you know how Korean capital is supposed to be buying up Tsushima, I don't really know the details there, but people can do what they want so Japan should be able to buy up Korean land too, there shouldn't be any problem with that right? What's the problem there?

(By the way, you can see the video in Japanese here. Actually it looks like Sasaki also denies telling people to buy Jeju-do, but that he said "it wouldn't be all that odd to buy Jeju-do" (considering the high yen). Still kind of a dumb thing to say, but meh.)

So it looks like little more than a bit of silliness. The main island of contention in between Japan and Korea is an extremely tiny one called Liancourt Rocks/Dokdo/Takeshima, and Korea has de facto control over that part, and every once in a while you can find someone that seriously thinks Tsushima (Korean name: Daemado, 대마도) should be a part of Korea as well, but considering their size and the fact that over 50,000 people live there it's not a serious proposal.

Jeju-do is a completely different matter, as it has never been part of a land dispute between Korea and Japan. It was an independent country some time ago though (called Tamna) and had its own language (탐라어). The overall feel of the place is kind of similar to Vancouver Island. I've been there are few times and here's a video of a temple near the largest city to give an idea of how serene the island is in most places:


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