Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eclipse Rising’s Statement for a Peace Treaty in Korea and Civil Rights for Zainichi Koreans

Eclipse Rising, a group based in the Bay Area composed of Zainichi Koreans, or postcolonial exiles of Korean descent in Japan, stand against the Obama Administration sending more artillery to South Korea and any militarized retaliation by U.S. or South Korean troops. We feel that such actions would only increase tensions in the Korean peninsula, where we have the most heavily militarized border in the world. According to Paul Liem of the Korean Policy Institute and several other Korea experts, North Korea struck Yeonpyeong only after South Korean forces conducted live artillery drills near the disputed maritime border, drawn unilaterally by the United States after the signing of an armistice agreement and unrecognized by North Korea. As these conflicts are perpetuated by the ongoing war, the only viable resolution we see fit is the signing of a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

As Zainichi Koreans, we want to bring attention to how the recent incident has affected the global Korean community in general, in particular the Korean communities of Japan. Only a day after the North Korean military reaction in Yeonpyeong, Japanese Prime Minister Kan told Minister of Education Takagi to freeze the process of including Woori Hakkyos, ethnic Korean schools in Japan, to the newly enacted “free tuition program,” which financially supports all high school students in their education, regardless of their nationality or which schools they go to including non-Japanese institutions such as international schools. Although the Japanese National Assembly continued to emphasize that the criteria for this program should be separated from political and diplomatic circumstances, Woori Hakkyos have continuously been excluded due to their association with North Korea, and only recently been considered to be included in the program as a result of the joint efforts of Japanese, South Korean, and Zainichi Korean communities’ outcry against their exclusion. However, the Japanese government is again using the recent political contention with North Korea as an excuse to justify their racist act against the Zainichi Korean community.

In light of these issues, we demand that the Japanese government not only stop violating the civil rights of Zainichi Korean members of Japanese society, but also make diplomatic efforts toward peace talks with North Korea along with the United States and South Korea.

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