Tensions rise between Seoul and Tokyo sparked by controversy over abuses during World War II, compensation claims, differences of view on North Korea. This has led the two nations to interrupt different channels of dialogue. The Churches of the two countries at the forefront of reconciliation.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - The tensions between South Korea and Japan can be eased thanks to the joint work of the Christians of the two Asian countries, believes Jun Jae-won head of the Mission TV a Seoul based Christian Broadcasting System. Interviewed by the South China Morning Post, he explains: "We remain firm on this vision. There are people who think like us, although many cancel visits to Japan out of a nationalist sentiment”.
For some time, Jun has been organizing guided tours of the Christian sites of Nagasaki, where many Christians were martyred during the Japanese imperial era. This is despite there being several calls in Korea to boycott Japanese products, travel and financial systems. Because of his commitment to peace, he is often called "chinilpa", an offensive term that roughly means "friend of enemies [Japanese]".
Tensions between the two Asian countries flared up last July, when a South Korean court issued a ruling requiring companies from the Land of the Rising Sun to pay a huge amount of money as a "war reperation" for Koreans forced to work during the occupation of Tokyo.
In addition, several human rights groups in Seoul are persistent in following the issue of “comfort women", the sex slaves that the occupiers sent to troops engaged during World War II. According to these NGOs, the Japanese have never admitted their own faults or compensated the victims.
These unresolved issues have soured relations: Tokyo eliminated Seoul from the list of privileged commercial partners, while Seoul responded by breaking the intelligence sharing pact that had been going on for some years.
However, Christians of both nations remain an open bridge for bilateral relations. In addition to "religious tourism", in fact, the Churches and Protestant denominations exchange groups of students; meet at an academic level to study the themes of common history; they offer advantageous hospitality to those who visit.
Furthermore, the bishops of Korea and Japan exchange reciprocal visits twice a year. In this way, they can visit both countries. During these visits, on several occasions they have addressed the uncomfortable issues of recent history by offering apologies and proposing practical solutions.