Thursday, January 16, 2014

Politics Unusual: Four-Nation Study around the “Mongolian” Invasion?

Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura gave a talk at the Japan National Press Club yesterday (Jan. 15), where an alert Yomiuri reporter found the following little nugget of a story (my translation).

Four-Nation Joint Study by Japan, China, South Korea [and Mongolia] on Sunken Ships from the Mongolian Invasion
 MEXT Minister Shimomura stated in a press conference at the Japan Press Club on the 15th that “we would like to jointly undertake research with Mongolia, China and South Korea” on the sunken ships from the Yuan military that sank during the 13th Century Mongolian Invasion, proposing a joint study by the four nations.*

Fun facts:
1.      The “Mongolian” Invasion was conducted at the strong urging of the king of the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled the Korean Peninsula at the time though it had been reduced to tributary state by China’s Yuan Dynasty, which in turn had been set up by Mongolians. The “Mongolian” Invasion later came to be known in Japan as the “Yuan” Invasion.
2.      President Park Geun-hye said early in her regime, “The historical perspective of aggressor and victim cannot be changed, even though a thousand years pass by.” 734 years have gone by since the last Yuan/Mongolian Invasion.

Message (I think):
Hey, it’s history. Let’s get over it…

Will it work? Of course not. No way China and South Korea bite. But there’s entertainment value. Shimomura deserves high marks for finding a clever way to clothes that sentiment in a way that complicates the task of Chinese and South Korean officials to express their indignation in the usual manner. In fact, it has the feel of an anecdote from China’s classic history annals.

* (Original online text)


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