October 9, 2012 by Water Wisdom
By CHOE SANG-HUN October 09, 2012
CHOE SANG-HUN 报道 2012年10月09日
DOKDO/TAKESHIMA — As they do on any fine-weather day, ferries on Thursday disgorged hundreds of South Korean tourists at these desolate islets. Some charged onto a wharf, waving the national flag and shouting “Daehanminguk manse!” — “Long live the Republic of Korea!” Others unfurled a “Dokdo is our territory” banner and snapped group photographs.
The visitors were part of the flood of tourists who have visited this year — 153,000 and counting — amid a flare-up of long-simmering tensions over the islets, which are administered bySouth Korea but also claimed by Japan.
There is little for tourists to do here except express their sentiments. The islets are treeless volcanic outcroppings where the wind sometimes blows so strongly that the few residents fortify their windows with duct tape and spend their time dodging bird droppings during the spring migration of gulls. The outcroppings would, in fact, probably be an afterthought if not for the territorial dispute, which centers as much on Japan and South Korea’s fraught history as it does on claims of the rich fisheries nearby.
The territorial debate over the islets, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, is one of several simmering in Asia that some analysts fear could lead to hostilities, many of them tied to China’s rise and its increasingly assertive claims to territory in the South China Sea. But experts say the increasingly shrill disputes between Japan and its East Asian neighbors, including China and South Korea, are potentially more explosive because the animosity is rooted in good part in anger over Japan’s brutal dominance of both countries decades ago rather than solely in a fight for natural resources.
On Dokdo/Takeshima, such anger is palpable.
Kim Seong-do, one of only two South Koreans who live here but do not work for the government — the other is his wife — is perhaps more animated than most on the subject, but strong feelings over the islets are widespread.
“If the Japanese come to take this place by force,” said Mr. Kim, 73, “I say ‘Give me a rifle.’ ”
South Korea’s leaders have generally tried to keep quiet about the islets, assuming that any discussion would play into Japan’s hands. But in recent years, the government has been more aggressive in staking its claim.
In August, President Lee Myung-bak became the first South Korean president to visit. That trip — and his subsequent suggestion that the Japanese emperor did not need to travel to South Korea unless he apologized unequivocally for Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula — set off an unusually strong reaction in Japan, where a weak government has been pushed by a small but vocal group of nationalists to take a stronger stand on territorial disputes.
Last month, the South Korean government opened a small Dokdo museum in Seoul that displays documents and ancient maps that the government says uphold its claims to the islets.
The South Korean government continued its public relations campaign on Thursday, agreeing to fly reporters for Western publications to the islets and allowing rare access to the armed police officers who guard against intrusions by Japan.
The government PowerPoint presentation included a well-known song in South Korea that says in part, “Hi, Dokdo, did you sleep well last night?”
The nationalistic sniping between two of Washington’s crucial allies over these specks of land serves as a reminder of the trouble that the United States faces as it tries to “pivot” back to Asia. The standoff contributed to South Korea’s decision to back out of an agreement, supported by the United States, to share military intelligence with Japan.
Some historians and security analysts say Washington is partly responsible for the troubles.
Japan says it reconfirmed its sovereignty over the islets in 1905 when it incorporated them into one of its prefectures. But South Korea sees that move as part of Japan’s forced annexation of the Korean Peninsula, which was completed in 1910.
While leading the negotiations to redefine Japan’s territory afterWorld War II, Washington did not clarify who owned the islets. After the so-called San Francisco Treaty, which set the terms of Japan’s surrender, went into force in 1952, South Korea declared the islets as its own, and since 1954 it has kept a police contingent there.
二战后，华盛顿方面尽管领导了重新界定日本领土的谈判，却没有阐明这些小岛的归属。所谓的《旧金山和约》(San Francisco Treaty)于1952年生效，该合约规定了日本投降的条件。之后，韩国宣称这些小岛为韩国领土，且自1954年后便在那里派驻了警察部队。
The redistribution of the Japanese Empire after its defeat was “part and parcel of today’s problem,” said Alexis Dudden, a history professor at the University of Connecticut.
康涅狄格大学(University of Connecticut)历史学教授亚力克西斯·杜登(Alexis Dudden)表示，日本战败后对日本帝国疆域的重新分配是“今天问题的主要原因”。
The cold war tamped down the disputes. But now, Ms. Dudden said, the region’s territorial fights have become “perfect for competing narratives about the war, which is precisely why increasingly younger generations with no wartime or colonial experience themselves are able to use them for the purposes of stories they wish to tell.”
Over the years, South Korea has responded to Japan’s recurring claim by adding a wharf, a helipad, a generator, solar-energy panels and a tank that transforms the sea into drinking water. The government also gave street names to the steep stairways zigzagging the cliffs, and so far over 2,100 South Koreans have registered as Dokdo residents though they do not live here.
On Thursday, the Taepyeongyang No. 7, a 4,000-ton police patrol boat, prowled the waters around the islets, keeping watch for a Japanese Coast Guard ship that circles once every four days or so, sailing in international waters.
周四，4000吨级的警方巡逻艇“太平洋七号”(Taepyeongyang No. 7)在小岛附近的水域巡逻，监视着一艘日本海上保安厅(Japanese Coast Guard)的船。日本的这艘船在国际水域行驶，每四天左右会进行一次环岛航行。
“It’s not supposed to come within 12 miles of Dokdo,” said the Taepyeongyang’s captain, Superintendent Chung Myong-ho. “If it does, we will warn it and then ram it, or worse. But so far nothing like that has happened.”
Despite the many hardships of living here, it has become a sacred duty among many young South Koreans to defend the islets from what Senior Inspector Lee Kwang-sup, commander of the police contingent, calls a “mean, vulgar and unrepentant nation” across the sea. Twenty to thirty times more police recruits than the government-set quota volunteer to serve here.
尽管在这里生活面临着诸多艰辛，但在许多年轻人中间，捍卫这些小岛不受与其隔海相望的日本的侵犯已经成了一项神圣的职责。 高级督查、驻扎在独岛的警队指挥官李光习(Lee Kwang-sup)称，日本是一个“卑鄙、粗俗、顽固不化的国家”。自愿前往独岛工作的新警员的人数比政府设定的名额多出20至30倍。
Kwon Se-hyon, 19, is one of those who secured the posting. Mr. Kwon is a college student who grew up loving Japanese comic strips and animated cartoons and believing that Koreans have a lot to learn from Japan. Still, in April, he joined 150 police recruits competing for seven open slots on Dokdo, where 45 officers are stationed.
“I didn’t want to miss this very special opportunity for a Korean man,” he said.