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Japan`s Self-Defense Forces anniversary celebration in Seoul
JULY 11, 2014 07:00  
The Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan attracts people with a wide range of artwork made of snow and ice. It showcases the miniatures of the world뭩 famous buildings carved with ice and snow. It even showed Korea뭩 Gwanghwamun, Sungnyemun and Gyeongbok Palace. Most of the ice artists are members of Japan뭩 Self-Defense Forces. They have created large artwork since 1995 after the Self-Defense Forces were established on July 1, 1954. Did the soldiers just think about art when making the landmarks of countries where Japan invaded such as Korea and China?

The Self-Defense Forces uses the Rising Sun flag. Red rays stretch out from a red circle representing the sun. The military flag, which was used under Japanese militarism, waved at the forefront of invasion. It is natural that the Asian countries invaded by Japan are sensitive to the flag. Japan`s Maritime Self-Defense Forces still use the naval flag of the Japanese empire and the Ground Self-Defense Forces use the flag with eight rays, a slight variation from the old flag with 16 rays.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, Japan ranked eighth in the world by defense budget, spending 48.6 billion U.S. dollars last year. The U.S. is no.1 with 640 billion dollars and China comes next with 188 billion dollars. Russia ranked third with 87.8 billion dollars and Korea ranked 10th with 33.9 billion dollars. Equipped with cutting-edge weapons, Japan is already a military power. Although China is ahead of Japan in terms of defense budget, military power and the quantity of weapons, some say that Japan is superior to China from a comprehensive perspective including the quality of weapons. This is why it is worrisome that Japan has allowed the exercise of the collective self-defense in 69 years from its defeat.

The Japanese Embassy to Korea holds the 60th anniversary of the Self-Defense Forces at Lotte Hotel, Seoul, this evening. It sent invitations to some 500 people including Korean dignitaries from different sectors and foreign diplomats, but few Koreans are likely to attend the event due to the strained relationship between Korea and Japan. Is Japan holding such an event in the middle of Seoul because it does not know what is going on or does not care about it at all?

Editorial Writer Han Ki-heung (eligius@donga.com)

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