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Japanese Emperor Akihito’s dream of visiting Korea

Posted September. 22, 2017 08:19,   

Updated September. 22, 2017 09:28

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A Molotov cocktail was thrown at Japanese Emperor Akihito as Crown Prince when he paid tribute to the Tower of Lilies, a tower honoring war victims, in Okinawa on July 17, 1975. It was thrown by two young men who were hiding in a trench for a week. More than 120,000 Okinawa residents were killed in the Battle of Okinawa during the World War Two. They could not tolerate the visit of the eldest son of the emperor responsible for war. He left after paying tribute to the tower.

Emperor Akihito made his first visit to the Koma Shrine in Hidaka, Saitama Prefecture, on Wednesday. Yakgwang, the son of the last king of the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo and 1,799 people settled in the region 1,307 years ago and their descendants established the shrine in honor of Yakgwang. There is an urban myth that paying tribute to the shrine makes one succeed in what he does. After paying tribute to the place, six politicians became prime minister including Makoto Saito. Even prosecutors came to the place as they believed that it would help their work. Local people enjoy Koma Nabe, a Goguryeo cuisine that boils marinated Chinese cabbage with a soy bean paste and a soy sauce.

 

Kanmu, Japan’s 50th emperor, is a son of Emperor Konin and Yamato from Baekje. Emperor Akihito mentioned this officially twice based on the Shoku Nihongi history book. One was at a press conference on Dec. 12, 2001 before his birthday and the other was at the first East Asian municipal government meeting in Nara Prefecture in 2010. He intended to emphasize that Emperor Kanmu’s birthmother is a descendant of Baekje. He said he feels a deep relationship with Korea. This is why he has a deep interest in Korea and visited the Koma Shrine.

When Emperor Akihito declared abdication for his health, Japan was in shock. The emperor continued to visit shrines honoring Second World War victims. He served as a “silent opponent” checking extremists including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He hoped to visit Korea several times. It is difficult for him to visit Korea because his visit as an emperor could agitate both countries. However, if he resigns from the throne, his visit to Korea could bring the strained bilateral relationship back to normal. The emperor might have that dream.