[WSJ] Osaka Mayor Urges Takeshima Action on Twitter

<Quote> [The Wall Street Journal]

If any Japanese politician has fully embraced the power of Twitter it’s Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. On Monday, the former lawyer and TV commentator took to the microblogging site — as he often does to air his pointed thoughts on policy matters –- to offer a first look at his foreign policy views since he threw his hat into the national arena. Mr. Hashimoto zeroed in on the country’s territorial dispute with South Korea.

The politician shot off about 40 tweets in quick succession Monday morning strongly re-asserting Japan’s claims to the South Korean-controlled islands and what the country needs to do to get them back.

The mayor didn’t mince words in detailing how he felt that Japan lost control of the islands called the Liancourt Rocks. The islands are controlled by South Korea, which calls them Dokdo, and coveted by Japan, where they are known as Takeshima. Mr. Hashimoto, who has over 840,400 followers on Twitter, called South Korea’s presence there “illegal” and repeatedly argued that South Korea snatched the islands away by use of force.

“South Korea took the islands away by force at a time when Japan was in turmoil,” he wrote, referring to the post-World War II period. “Japan’s opposition wasn’t strong enough. Some might claim ‘How cowardly is that!’”

He also lamented Japan’s inaction in reclaiming the territory ever since.

“Because of this loss, anything that has been said since then has been too late. The Japanese people should recognize how Japan handled the issue after it was taken away. It’s sad, but this is where we lost. The current generation should think about what should be done next,” he wrote in one tweet.

The 43-year-old leader made it clear that he’s calling for action, not just words. He lays out two options: to settle the matter in international courts or through military force. He presses for the former, arguing that as a democratic country Japan cannot use force unless it is in response to an attack. Yet, in response to one tweet, he acknowledges that the military should not be ruled out as an option entirely. “Of course, within the Self-Defense Forces scope. This should be strengthened, especially coastal defense.”

He says that by bringing the matter to international court the truth of the claims will be unveiled. Namely, how Japan had officially recognized the territory as part of Shimane prefecture in 1905 and how South Korea had subsequently gained control of it through military force nearly half a century later. South Korea rejected Japan’s proposal to take the ongoing dispute to the International Court of Justice in August.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t lost on some online surfers that the elected official spent the better part of his morning punching his thoughts out on Twitter.

“Does this guy (Mr. Hashimoto) do any work? He’s posted over 50 tweets since this morning…more people are viewing him with a cold eye,” wrote a user who goes by the Twitter handle miyatake1984, who describes himself as a supporter of veteran lawmaker Ichiro Ozawa’s stance against talks to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. (Mr. Hashimoto supports TPP.)

“I’m taking the day off,” responded the mayor.

Clearly. Mr. Hashimoto was back online in the afternoon, blasting off another 20 or so tweets.




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