The Miracle in 1965

Akira Ogawa
Senior Researcher
The Okazaki Institute


The post-WWII ROK-Japan relations have witnessed two quantum-leap evolutions. In 1965, a miracle occurred, and two nations normalized diplomatic and economic relations, at once. Korean President Park Chung Hee was the prime mover and he made the impossible take place. In Japan, Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda and Foreign Minister Etsusaburo Shiina played pivotal roles.

In October 1998, another Korean President, Kim Dae Jung, put ROK-Japan security relations into practice; it was another miracle we witnessed in our lifetime. Both Korean presidents and their Japanese counterparts showed political courage and authority to implement their vision.

Insightful historians know by instinct that when a small cluster of men of quality who have political power are in a position to influence events on both side of two countries, act together, it is possible to override myopia and emotional sentiment of both peoples to advance diplomatic, economic and security relations. ROK-Japan relations are no exception.

In this chapter, an attempt to describe the key players in the 1965 normalization, as well as the decision making process at the crucial period for both ROK and Japan.

The following three books provided the author the insightful details in reaching the normalization of various treaties.

1. Wong, Lee Tong, The Secret Story of the Japan-ROK Treaty: The Fated Encounter of Two Diplomats, PHP, 1997.

2. Kotani, Hidejiro, and Kim Sook Ya, The ROK in Danger: A Re-Evaluation of Park Chung Hee and Kim Chung Pil,Kobunsha, 1997.

3. A Record: Etsusaburo Shiina, 2 vols, Record Issuance Committee of Etsusaburo Shiina, 1982.

Miracle in 1965

Normalizing the Relationship Between Japan and The ROK:
Etsusaburo Shiina and Park Chung Hee

Thinking upon the 21st century relationship between ROK and Japan, we can not skip a definite incident which happened during three days in 1965 and the two people, Etsusaburo Shiina, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Park Chung Hee, the ROK President, who played pivotal roles in the diplomacy. There had been no official diplomatic relationship between ROK and Japan, despite fourteen years of efforts in vain. Many people thought that "it would take twenty-two more years to make up for the thirty-six years of Japanese colonization in the ROK." [1]

Shiina, after taking office as Minister of Foreign Affairs on July 18, 1964, landed at Kimpo Airport on Feb. 17, 1965. In Seoul, a group opposing normalized relationships between the two countries was demonstrating. During his four day stay in the ROK, he dealt with difficulties well and achieved an initial signing of a Japan-ROK Treaty at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 20, which nobody had expected possible. Biographies in both countries state that the history was created during that night of Feb. 20. The normalization was achieved during the very last night Shiina stayed in the ROK in 1965.

Park Chung Hee had won political power in 1961 as the result of a military coup lead by officers who were from poor farming families. The ROK at the time was really poor. Farmers did not have much to eat in spring, when they had eaten up most of the food stored for winter, and it was called "spring famine" since the time never failed to come every spring. Their GNP was 1/23 of the Japan's and 1/3 of North Korea's. Park used to say often, "If I had known we were this poor, I would not have led the revolution."

The foundation for the ROK's economic development, which is called "the miracle of Hangan," and which occurred under the leadership of Park Chung Hee, to join world's developed countries, was brought about by the normalization of the relationship between Japan and the ROK. President Park Chung Hee had highways, railroads, and iron mills constructed with the funds which he succeeded in demanding officially from Japan. In this paper, the author would like to focus on how Japan's and Korea's leaders could successfully moved toward political solutions to the difficult problems between the two countries. The information should become useful for understanding Kim Dae Jung's era which is moving toward the 21st century. The essay will explain what kind of things were obstacles for the smooth normalization of the relationship. It also will have to explain how fiercely the Japanese opposition party, who supported North Korea, and the Korean opposition party, who very emotionally expressed anti-Japan sentiment, acted to prevent the normalization of the relationship between the two countries. Moreover, in the international climate that existed between the Cuba crisis and the Vietnam War, the U.S. supported a good relationship between Japan and the ROK.

Obstacles to Normalizing the Diplomatic Relationship between Japan and the ROK:
Anti-Japan Sentiment

The first official diplomatic exchange between the two countries after the war was held on Feb. 15, 1952 and was followed by the second and third talks in the same year. During the third meeting, Kantaro Kubota, the head of the delegation, stated that the Korean insistence on compensation for Japan's colonial rule would make the Japanese want to point out its effort to nurture Korean economic strength and said that Japan's thirty-six year rule over Korea was not always bad but also beneficial to people who lived there. The talks collapsed when Japan did not respond to the ROK's request to withdraw his remark.. There was no talk for five years after this incident. It would not be too much to say that behind this was the intense hatred toward Japan of Yi Sung-man, the first President of the ROK, who maintained his absolute power for twelve years. It is widely known that he said during the Korean War that if Japan attacked the ROK, they would fight against it even if it was necessary for them to make an alliance with North Korea.[2]

The logic behind this feeling was that "Japan forced Koreans to learn Japanese by changing the Korean language from mandatory to optional in their school curriculum for the purpose of annexing the country to Japan" and that every aspect of Japan's colonization was evil. There is an account in one of the history textbooks for Korean junior high schools that Lee Wang Yong sold the Korean Kingdom, which had lasted twenty-seven generations and for 519 years, to Japan through the Japan-ROK Annexation Treaty. "You are Lee Wang Yong" is an insult in the ROK. [3]

The anti-Japanese sentiment was the biggest factor for the ROK in the Yi Sung-man administration in its efforts to create a sovereign identity. The biggest task during his administration was to confront North Korea.

Thus, some changes, which resulted in normalizing the diplomatic relationship between the two countries, were necessary. The changes were seen in incidents such as the exile of Yi Sung-man to the U.S., which was triggered by the students' revolution on April 19, 1960; a change of international climate in which the U.S. strongly hoped Japan and the ROK would have close ties; and change which required as a priority policy the ROK to request Japan for funds for its economic development.

The Yi administration, brought down by the student revolution, was followed by the Jong Myeon administration That government could not reverse the bad economic situation in the ROK. Furthermore, the ROK's economic situation worsened, and a serious food shortage occurred. The conditions in the country strengthened the people's request for democracy and for communication between the South and the North, a call for which came from the North, at the time close to the one year memorial of the 1960 revolution.

A military officer, Park Chung Hee, succeeded in a bloodless coup on May 16, 1961. Soldiers from the North were expelled. The first job for the military regime was ending poverty, making it possible to feed the nation. That was where the request for normalizing the diplomatic relationship with Japan arose. In hastening the normalization of the relationship, Park Chung Hee decided the issue of claims against Japan should be ended so that the ROK 's economic reconstruction could be achieved by using funds from Japan.

On July 7, North Korea exchanged a "Friendship and Mutual Cooperation Treaty" with Soviet Union, and on July 17, a similar treaty with the ROK. This happened because the new ROK regime had been formed by the military coup during the serious confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the Vietnam War, which itself had become like a bottomless swamp.

Talks between Park Chung Hee and Hayato Ikeda

Park Chung Hee's brother-in-law, Yuk Ihn Soo stated that President Park always thought that it had been a great loss for the nation to wreck negotiations with Japan just because of anti-Japanese feelings. Park pointed out that there were two enemies for the ROK: communism in North Korea and anti-Japanese feelings. He insisted that the ROK should give priority to getting funds from Japan through negotiations .[4]

On October 25, 1961, Park sent Kim Chong Pil secretly to Tokyo to talk with Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda. Kim told Ikeda that the Park administration hoped to revive and conclude the Japan-ROK talks. He also said that Park hoped to stop by Tokyo, for the purpose of reaching some agreement with the Japanese, on his way back from the U.S. in two weeks, where he had been invited by President John F. Kennedy. Ikeda remarked to Kim, "Excuse me, but how old are you?" Kim answered that he was thirty-six years old. Then, Ikeda, feeling thrilled, said that Kim reminded him of a patriot during the Meiji Restoration in Japan and that his thoughts were the same as Ikeda's. Five days later, Ikeda sent a special envoy to Park with a message in which he invited Park as a state guest.[5]

On November 11, 1961, Park came to Japan, and fifteen thousand Japanese policemen guarded him. His thirty hour stay in Japan completely changed the flow of relations between the two countries. Although the Japanese government had expected Park to be an aggressive soldier because he came into power by a coup d'etat, he gave a very different impression from everybody's expectation. Munenori Akagi, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, regarded Park as a modest, honest, and diligent person, and Eisaku Sato, the Minister of International Trade and Industry, had an impression that Park was a good-natured and honest person. It was noted during the dinner party sponsored by the Prime Minister of Japan that Park was a small eater and a well-mannered gentleman.[6] All Japanese, including Prime Minister Shinsuke Kishi, had a great admiration for Park's manner which resembled a patriot's during the Japanese Meiji Restoration.[7]

Lee Wang Yong, who became the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK later, stated that Park was a thoroughgoing realist. Park used to say that the ROK should learn from Japan, which stooped in front of the U.S. when it was learning things from the U.S., and that it was useless for the ROK and Japan to compete with each other. He actually begged for help, standing at attention and bowing to Ikeda, and saying, "Japan is surely advanced compared to the ROK. Please help us. We regard Japan as an elder brother. Please raise us with your brotherly love. Do not pay much attention to the claims originating from Japanese colonial days. We would like to develop a good economy by ourselves, but we would appreciate it if Japan could support us when the automobile named the ROK starts to move." [8]

Park expected that it would be impossible for him to compromise with the Communist Party to unify the ROK and the PROK. Therefore, he gave priority to gaining economic and military power, and he asked Japan for help. He thought that gaining these two powers would make the PROK ask the ROK for unification in the future. After arriving in Japan, Park announced, "It is not time for both countries to stick to small issues and to be opposed each other. It is time for both countries to discuss seriously about how to cooperate together. The relationship between the two countries will contribute to world peace and prosperity." [9]

When Park talked with Ikeda, he claimed that the reason he, as a person who had been involved in the coup d'etat, came to Japan was that he believed in the importance of cooperation between the ROK and Japan. He also said that two countries were "a community of destiny" and that both should overcome their feelings arising from the past. Knowing well that Park graduated from the Military Academy of Japan, Ikeda suggested that Park talk in Japanese without an interpreter, and they spent ninety minutes together alone. At that time, Ikeda had decided to tackle Japan-ROK issues by receiving advice from President Kennedy, but he wanted to avoid using the issue as a political tool for military purpose. Public opinion in Japan was divided after the riots against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty on June 1960, and the Kishi administration had collapsed after opposition by leftists. The Ikeda administration, an advocate of the "double income plan," was attempting to cool off the public. Both Japan and the ROK had just experienced changes in political power by going through turmoil. Both countries had to wait for the cooperation to be clarified in the field of national security until Kim Dae Jung's visit to Japan in 1998.

The method for dealing with claim rights was agreed on during the talks between Ikeda and Park, and the negotiations had been started. The three principles of the agreement are:

1) "Claim rights"' differ from compensation. They deal mainly with Korean individuals' pensions and unpaid wages. The Korean government admitted that the amount of claim rights could not be some hundreds of millions of dollars as they had insisted before.

2) "Claim rights" should be calculated based on business considerations and not on the basis of political decisions.

3) Instead of defining the "claim rights," the Japanese government will provide economic support beneficial to the ROK which will match the Korean five year economic reconstruction plan.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Masayoshi Ohira and Central Intelligence Director Kim Chong Pil

Kim Chong Pil happened to meet Prime Minister Ikeda on Oct. 20, 1962 when he spoke at the Tokyo Conference on Moral Rearmament. Kim Chong Pil told the audience that people in the ROK were opposing even the Japan-ROK meeting itself so that they should come to terms over amount of funds which would be received from Japan. Prime Minister Ikeda agreed with Kim and promised a meeting between Ohira and Kim.[10]

Then Kim made a trip to the U.S. and met the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and some bureaucrats under the Kennedy administration, but they only encouraged him to achieve a cooperation agreement between Japan and the ROK as soon as possible. The Cuba crisis had occurred just before that. The talk between Ohira, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Kim, Central Intelligence Director, took place on November 12.[11]

Kim Chung Pil had been instructed by Park Chung Hee that it would be successful if they could get about US $800 million from Japan, but Ohira initiated the talk and told Kim that he had been instructed by the Prime Minister to settle the case for US $80 million. Kim started his talk with a story about the Russo-Japanese War to express his desperate position: "There was, in Japanese history , the incident that the houses of the diplomats who tried to negotiate for peace were set on fire. They are now considered as patriots. I, being criticized as a traitor within my own country, am sitting here with a firm will to take all the responsibility to myself. Become a person like Jyutaro Komura! I will be like Lee Wang Yong." He continued by talking about Hideyoshi Toyotomi and said that Japan and the ROK needed a person like Hideyoshi who had a forceful will with which, it was said, he managed to make a stubbornly quiet nightingale finally sing. Then, he demanded US $700 million. Ohira brought up the territorial debate over Takeshima (Tokdo) Island. Thinking that the territorial debate over Takeshima Island was one which Japan would bring up, Kim replied to Ohira that by making the island a practice field for the Korean Air Force and bombing the island for a few days, the island would vanish permanently from the map. Four hours passed.

Kim was not offered even a drop of water during the talks. He demanded US $600 million after he said that even if Japan was a very stingy nation, he had not heard of any meetings where participants were not provided even with a cup of coffee.

Ohira stared at Kim and then asked how old he was. Kim answered that he was thirty-seven. Ohira said to Kim, "After meeting you, I feel I have been wasting my life. I am going to take your suggestion, even if the Prime Minister's offer was just US $80 million. However, let us pay this in installments because Japan can not afford to pay it in one lump sum." The settlement was concluded, for both grants and public loans, on US $500 million.

The Presidential Election and The Park Era

The Japan-ROK talks were interrupted by political struggle. Kim had to leave all public duties due to criticism against him as the focus of four big graft scandals. However, Chairman Park suddenly declared the extension of the military regime for four more years on March 11, 1963. Everybody in the opposition group was arrested. Surprised, America pressured the ROK to have an election, which was held on October 15. Park got 4 ,700,000 votes and Yun Po Son got 4,540,000 votes. Park won the election by a 150,000 votes difference. The small difference was said to be due to Park's policy of normalizing the relationship with Japan. On October 26, the election for representatives was held. The leading party won 110 seats out of the total 175 seats. Among them was Kim Chong Pil, which added indisputably to the Park-Kim structure. On April 19 of the following year, the students' revolution day became a bloody day in Seoul. President Park appointed Chong Il-gwon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to be Prime Minister on May 9, 1964. The new administration had three goals: a stable economy, immediate normalization of the relationship with Japan, and clearing out corruption within the government. They first responded to the U.S.'s request and devalued their currency, the won, by 50%. In return, they received funds to stabilize the economy, support for grain purchases, and a short-term credit, so they could be financially secure until the conclusion of negotiations between Japan and the ROK. The chief mission of the new administration became to quickly achieve that normalization of the relationship. Therefore, the new administration was called "a Japan-ROK charge administration." However, the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which was supposed to be a popular position, could not be filled because nobody wanted to take it, knowing the mission was to reach the conclusion of the negotiation with Japan. The Prime Minister concurrently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for two and half months. The sixth round of talks between Japan and the ROK had been interrupted by the proclamation of the emergent martial law due to the uproar in the ROK.

Etsusaburo Shiina

On July 18, 1964, Etsusaburo Shiina, who was a novice in the field of foreign affairs, was appointed to be Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Ikeda administration. The Japan-ROK talks had not borne any fruit after fourteen years of effort put in by major figures from both countries. When Shiina heard of the appointment, he complained to the Deputy Prime Minister Shojiro Kawashima that it had to be a "joke." [12] Ikeda said to Shiina, "The reason I appointed you is that you are a layman, Mr. Shiina. The quick way to solve the issue between the two countries is for you not to know the ins and outs of the diplomacy." Then, he made Shiina accept the position on the spot. [13]

The negotiations between the two countries involved all the Japanese ministries, and it came to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs who coordinated the work of the issue over other ministers. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was in charge of the "Peace (Heiwa ) Line;" the Minister of Finance, the ROK'S claim rights against Japan; the Minister of International Trade and Industries, economic cooperation; and the Minister of Justice, the legal status of Koreans residing in Japan. Finding solutions to the fundamental problems of diplomatic relations, which would become most crucial to the treaty, was the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the normalization of relationships was proposed, at the strong request of the Korean government, through a Normalization Treaty and not through a joint statement.

Shiina later stated in "My Biography" that the reason the relationship between the two countries did not go smoothly, even with a lot of effort made by many people from both countries, was that the problems derived from people's beliefs, not from the treaty itself. He understood the issue in depth and thought that the point on the negotiations must be "to understand the emotional and historical viewpoints of the Korean people." All the problems which could be solved administratively were dealt with.

However, at the crucial points Japan and the ROK stubbornly took opposite positions and could not reach agreements. Among the fundamental issues, there were three items: 1) the range of the ROK's jurisdiction-Japan excluded North Korea from the ROK's jurisdiction, but it insisted Japan admit that the ROK was the only government with jurisdiction over the whole Korean Peninsula; 2) Japan's Annexation Treaty with the ROK-The Japanese view of Japan's Annexation Treaty of 1910 was that it was internationally acknowledged and became invalid at the end of the war, but the ROK's view was that it was from the beginning invalid; and 3) Takeshima island-There was no agreed point in this territorial dispute between the two countries. These issues had to be solved politically.

In regard to the claim rights, there was a general agreement, between Ohira and Kim, over the total US $600 million (US $300 million in grants, US $200 million in public loans, and more than US $100 million of commercial credits). The method of paying back the US $200 million in public loans to Japan was undecided. The ROK insisted on more than US $500 million as commercial credits. It was 39-year old Lee Tong Wong who filled at last the unwanted position of the Minister of the Korean Foreign Affairs on July 25. Park called him into his office to ask if Lee would be willing to work for the treaty. He immediately answered that he would do it for the country, but he would be soon called Lee Wang Yong for what he was about to do. [14]

On October 25, 1965, a sudden political change occurred. Ikeda had to resign upon his doctors' advice and died of cancer in the following year. Eisaku Sato, a little indecisive for a politician, succeeded Ikeda, without changing the cabinet. In the seventh round of talks between the two countries, the visit to the ROK by Shiina as Minister of Foreign Affairs was decided upon.

Lee Tong Wong, suddenly just before Shiina's visit to the ROK, sent a telegram to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking for a Japanese apology from Japan, during Shiina's statement at Kimpo Airport, for having caused the bad relationship between the two countries. In Japan, this incident attracted much attention from the mass media. They said, "They have had the intention to do this sort all along. Shiina should not go to the ROK." Shiina replied, "If they want an apology, they will get it. No matter how we view the past, as long as the people in the ROK detest the past and we keep refusing to clear away the past, we will never be able to make good friends with our neighboring country. As Japan bowed low to the U.S., so should we apologize to the ROK." Then, taking a stand against Japanese opposition, Shiina left Japan with his chin up.[15]

Shiina's Visit to Korea

On February 17, 1965, Shiina arrived in the ROK. The Socialist party proposed a censure vote against the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the evening of February 16 and criticized him for having left the country in this situation. The Japanese flag was flying at Kimpo Airport for the first time since Korea's liberation. There was a disagreement among the ROK'S cabinet members because many of them opposed to flying the Japanese flag. Lee Tong Wong said, "We would not be a sovereign nation but merely a group of cowards if we ignored the international custom of flying the flag of the country our state guest was from just because we feared the negative feelings among our people. I will take the responsibility for flying the flag."[16] Thus, the Japanese flag was raised. When Zentaro Kosaka had visited the ROK, the Japanese flag had not been raised due to the ill feelings of the Korean people. [17]

When Shiina arrived, Lee Tong Wong thought that the man he saw for the first time had "a very ordinary, common face which resembles our own." Shiina and Lee went to review troops by jeep. Shiina, while reviewing the Korean troops, suddenly sat down. [18] He, of course, stood up immediately. Seeing this behavior in a person who had served for a long time as a government officer, such as vice president of the South Manchuria Railway, and who yet had forgotten completely about military etiquette, Lee's impression about Shiina was that he was a representative of peace.[19]

Shiina read a landing statement at the airport. He said, "We have felt regretful and deeply reflected upon the fact there was an unfortunate time in the past in our long history." The scene was reported on the radio and television throughout the country. As for the people in the ROK, it was said that the statement was exactly what they had wanted to hear and had waited for. Later Lee Tong Wong told Prime Minister Sato that Shiina grasped the Korean people's minds with just a word, visiting the ROK without being afraid of a million soldiers and without carrying a weapon. From that point, people in the ROK started to feel that Shiina was a great person and a great statesman. They thought that Shiina was a person who understood the significance of reflecting upon the past, and that only this kind of a person would do a good job in the future. He was not the kind of politician that they had expected. [20]

Soon after the statement was read, instead of "Kimi ga Yo," the Japanese anthem, "Arirang," the ROK anthem, was played. It could have been viewed as rude conduct on the ROK side, but this incident was ignored without causing any problem due to Japanese consideration for people's feelings in the ROK.[21]

There were many flyers, which said "Minister of Foreign Affairs Shiina would be killed by us," pasted up in many places throughout the city. There were many demonstration groups in Seoul, one of which was in front of Shiina's hotel, opposing talks between the two countries that day. Heading one of the demonstration groups was former President Yun Po Son. Shiina and Lee were riding in the same car when, all of a sudden, the car stopped with a loud "bang." Lee Tong Wong lunged forward as an egg hit him. He told Shiina that it was a welcome sign and that it would have been a bullet if it had been a sign of hatred. Shiina commented on Lee's remark, telling him that it seemed too much for a sign of welcome.[22]

There was a welcoming reception for Shiina that evening. His landing statement had been well received by diplomats from other counties. It was like an improvised instant interview when many journalists, who also attended the party, surrounded Shiina and started asking questions. When one of the journalists there asked Shiina about his impression of the demonstration groups, he replied, "I was shocked to see myself heading one of the demonstration groups when I saw a news picture of the demonstration!" Former President Yun Po Song and Shiina looked remarkably alike. Yun Po Song seemed to be a serious man, but actually he could often play somewhat dumb and looked good-natured. People in the ROK thought of him as having a slightly comic face. Realizing the resemblance of the two, journalists laughed at Shiina's response. When he was asked which of the two was older, Shiina asked for Yun's age. When he learned that Yun was older than Shiina, he replied, "Then, I am his junior." The Korean mass media reported this reply of Shiina's very favorably. [23]

There was a formal luncheon at the Chong Hwa Dai on February 18 which was given by the head of the country. Shiina, bowed very deeply to President Park, who had been only a student at the Manchuria Military Officer Academy, when Shiina was Vice President of South Manchuria Railway a long time before. He bowed so deeply that Park looked rather strained. The following is what Lee Tong Wong said. "Thus, the luncheon proceeded without conversation. Shiina was, as I thought, an extraordinary man. Regardless of the atmosphere, he kept eating with chopsticks while Koreans were eating with a spoon according to their tradition. He made a noise as if he was starving. Looking at Shiina eating in the manner, we felt somewhat relieved. Shiina suddenly spoke. 'Your Excellency, I have a favor to ask you.' We tensely looked at Shiina and Park alternatively. 'Please go ahead and tell me about it.' said Park cautiously. 'Well, then. . . this is really delicious! May I have another bowl?' said Shiina. This one word by Shiina made us relax. In a moment, the atmosphere changed. Then light liqueur was served. The atmosphere became very friendly. Shiina, who did not have a polished diplomatic manner, was very frank." [24]

People negotiating the issue from both countries could not make the differences smaller when they dealt with the Normalization Treaty and the jurisdiction issues. Lee Tong Wong quietly invited Shiina into his office. Shiina said to Lee, "I only make big decisions. To be frank with you, there are many people in MoFA in Japan who want to make insignificant matters something bigger. Please just understand that I am not in a position to be able to ignore them." Lee said, "The reason why President Park appointed me to be Director of Foreign Affairs Department was only that I am young. Look at me as an amateur." Shiina replied that he was an amateur as well and laughed. Lee got nervous once more when Shiina suddenly told him that he had something to ask him. "Do you mind me asking you to drink with me?" said Shiina. He took out a bottle of Napoleon Cognac which he had brought with him. The two leaders started exchanging glasses. Then, they took a walk around the building. "Was this the place where the original palace gate was?" asked Shiina. Then, he continued in a loud, upset vice, "They were insensitive to build the Government-General near the location of the palace gate which had belonged to another country.

The way they did things in this fashion led them to fall." "Do you know who built this building?" asked Lee. Shiina said, "Let's see. . ." "It was him, Makoto Saito." answered Lee. When Shiina heard the name, he seemed to be shocked. Shiina was from the same town as Saito; he was Shiina's guardian.[25]

After returning from the walk, Shiina continued to drink cognac from his own glass as if it were water. Nobody could sense any yielding sign from either negotiating team in the adjacent room. There were just two days left for negotiation. Shiina seemed to get warm because of the cognac he had and closed his eyes. In about ten minutes, he suddenly opened his eyes and put his hand into the inside of his suit coat. Seeing him so drunkenly relaxed, people in the same room stiffened up. He took an earpick in a tiny package from his jacket. Watching Shiina, who kept scratching in his ear with his eyes closed and with an extremely calm face, Lee Tong Wong was impressed and thought that it was surprising that Shiina behaved so innocently. Thus, the first day of the first meeting between Japan and the ROK ended without any significant result.[26]

Lee had drinks with Shiina that night, leaving the talk behind, thinking that there would be another day. When a band started to play a Korean ballad, Shiina got a serious look. He kept it for about ten minutes and said, "Director Lee, I heard a Korean ballad for the first time today. Why did it touch me so much? Indeed, no difference exists between Koreans and Japanese. We are the same. I have heard Chinese ballads before, but I have not been touched as much as today." It became 11 o'clock. Shiina looked at the time and said to Lee, "I would like to have a small talk with you privately." When they were alone in another room, Shiina quietly had a few drinks and suddenly raised his head as if he had recovered from the drunkenness. "Director Lee, what are you going to do with the Takeshima Island issue?" asked Shiina. Lee replied, "I went out to see the island, urged by people's clamor over Takeshima Island. I found the island was just for birds to poop." The day was over.[27]

Without any progress in the talks next day as well, it soon became 5 o'clock. When Lee Tong Wong went to report to President Park in the Chung-Hwa-Dai, the latter looked concerned. The President nervously told Lee that he had a headache [28]and that he was going to take a break. Then, he left the place for Chinhae, in the south of the peninsula, where there was the Navy base.[29]

Without seeing any significant results in the talks, a farewell party for Shiina was given that evening at the Peninsula Hotel. All the cabinet members attended as well as highest ranking officers below the chief of staff. When Lee invited Shiina to have drinks alone, Shiina said, "Yes, let's go!" and followed Lee, taking his own drink, Napoleon Cognac, with him. At a restaurant called Seiun-kaku, a Japanese director, Torao Ushiroku, and a ROK director, Yeon Hah Koo, were thinking together about solutions. When Ushiroku was about to say that Prime Minister Sato specially instructed them not to concede definitely on the issue of jurisdiction, Shiina raised his hand to stop Ushiroku talk and unexpectedly said to them, "Please leave this room! Can't you leave fast!?" After Lee and Shiina were alone finally, Shiina still kept drinking. Then, finally he started talking.[30]

Shiina said to Lee, "We should, by all means, make this the decisive session. Otherwise, nobody knows how long it might take. Looking at the current Japanese situation, later negotiators may have no better cards in their hands." He told Lee that issues such as the effect of Japan's annexation of the ROK and the ROK being the only official government in the Korean Peninsula tended to become disputes for the sake of disputes so that they should stop talking about these issues by adopting language that both parties would accept. For example, Shiina intended to put off the issue of Takeshima Island.[31] In fact, he was said to instruct Ushiroku calmly that he should just write down a few lines of something suitable in the treaty since the island would not be returned immediately and that Shiina would take the responsibility of talking about it in parliament. [32]

Shiina pushed Lee and said, "If we do not reach the agreement this time, the negotiation will take a few more years. From my point of view, it's good enough. I have been given the authority to give an initial signature to the treaty. The problem is on your side. I hope you reach a decision immediately. If you can do it, I can return to Japan after I sign the initial treaty tomorrow."[33]

Shiina said to Lee, "I will report to the Japanese government, so why don't you, Director Lee, report to President Park?" [34] Lee Tong Wong was moved by Shiina's brave decision and sincerity, but President Park was at the time staying on a military ship which was anchored at Chinhae. Lee repeatedly said, "I've got a problem, I've got a problem." Then, Shiina pushed Lee again and said, "This conclusion has come this near, and you are still telling me that the President is asleep and the President is far away! Is that all you want to say to me?" He went on to say to Lee, "A military ship should have a wireless radio. There is no concern that a report will be heard by anybody. It is even better - The President does not go anywhere else in an anchored ship. Why don't you talk to him immediately?!" Shiina, making this his parting remark, left for the hotel. [35]

When Lee Tong Wong contacted President Park, he asked Lee what Shiina told him. "Shiina told me that he would take the responsibility if we could go the way he suggested," Lee answered Park. Park immediately approved and said, "Then, that is fine." It was after 1 o'clock in the morning of February 20. [36]

From 6 o'clock in the morning of February 20, Shiina called important people such as Prime Minister Sato and the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. At that time, the telephone circuits were not reliable, and it was common to take a whole day to get connected. However, Shiina's phone calls went smoothly because Maeda, who worked at the Japanese Embassy in the ROK, had delivered to the telephone company in the ROK enough Coke and cake for fifty people ahead of time.[37]

Here is what Shiina stated based on his memory. " Mr. Sato was concerned very much and said, 'Won't it become a big problem in the Parliament? Can you deal with the attack from the opposition group well?' I ignored him but just said, 'Leave the matter to me, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Do not worry.' I thought how cowardly he was and without firm principles." Shiina spoke for a long time about what he wanted Koreans to hear, knowing that they would hear this through the wireless radio. The ROK government was touched by his sincere enthusiasm toward the issue. Their respect for Shiina became firm.[38]

The Ratification of Treaty

After Shiina returned to Japan, he said to Kensuke Yanagiya, a bureaucrat, "Would you make a rough list of the problems? " Shiina took the list with him and immediately called for a meeting with Prime Minister Sato, Minister of Finance Tanaka, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Akagi. The four ministers talked alone, and at the end Shiina asked each minister to sign his name to the list. This was the crucial document which nobody had expected possible. [39]

As for the details of the claim, it pledged US $300 million in grants, US $200 million in public loans, and US $100 million in commercial credits, for a total of US $600 million. However, the ROK insisted that the people in the ROK would not be satisfied unless the total was US $1 billion and that the commercial loans should be US $500 million. The negotiation was settled on US $300 million, taking the middle figure between US $100 million and US $500 million. Upon the removal of the Yi Sung-man Line, the ROK asked for a low interest loan for its fishery industry, as the small-size fishermen would get affected otherwise. Japan approved the request. Moreover, there was $47,530,000, caused by the trade between Japan and the ROK , which the ROK could not pay back. It was agreed to deduct this sum from the figure of US $300 million in grants, but the Japanese Ministry of Finance insisted on the ROK paying the interest as well. Finally, it was decided that Japan would not press the ROK for the interest. A director in the Ministry of Finance opposed Minister Tanaka, saying, "It would create a problem for us." Tanaka said, "A big negotiation like the one between the ROK and Japan can not be concluded unless we concede this way. No choice, no choice !" It was a surprising conclusion to everybody as everything was decided so clearly.[40]

The ROK ratified the treaty in its diet in August. The result of the negotiation was reported in the ROK's diet obviously as if Japan compromised with the ROK for its proposed conditions while in Japan, the Socialist Party and Communist Party, who supported North Korea, prolonged the national assembly debate by asking many questions based on the ROK diet report. The Liberal Democratic Party forced votes in the Japan-ROK Special Committee and finally went through all the procedures on December 8 for final ratification in the national assembly, which lasted many days and nights.

This is the story of how the two countries finally ended the unreasonable situation in which there was no official diplomatic relationship for a long time in spite of the fact that the two were geographically and historically close. The negotiation between the two countries took fourteen years.

Thus, a very important treaty in bringing the war era to an end was ratified, along with San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Joint Declaration with the former Soviet Union, the return of Okinawa from the U.S., and the normalization of the relationship with China.

There were internationally favorably conditions to the conclusion of the talks between Japan and the ROK at the time, such as the U.S. being mired in the Vietnam War so that they wanted to see a good result to the negotiations between Japan and the ROK; and after France's diplomatic recognition of China, it was not wise for the ROK to stay away from Japan.

A Sequel to the Conclusion of the Negotiations

Shiina's visit to the ROK for the second time was when an assassination attempt on President Park failed, but killed his wife, Yuk Young Soo, instead. She was loved by everybody in the ROK and even by her husband's political enemies. The assassin was a Korean who had resided in Japan and had an education in Japan. The gun which was used for the crime was one which he stole from a Japanese policeman with the help of a Japanese. Prime Minister Tanaka immediately left Japan for the state funeral. When Japanese Foreign Affairs spokesmen said that Japan was not responsible legally and morally for the assassination the day after the funeral, anti-Japan demonstrations accelerated. Shiina was sent to the ROK to calm the anti-Japan sentiment.

Shiina took with him a signed letter from Prime Minister Tanaka, but he himself felt he needed to add to explain the government's feelings. He said, "A worsening of the relations between our countries will give no benefit to either country , which people of neither country wish. I feel morally responsible for the incident and feel regretful from the bottom of my heart that it has happened."[41]

On the evening that President Park talked with Shiina, Park was attacked by high fever and violent diarrhea. The official visit to President Park by Shiina next morning was canceled. The President was stressed by the sudden tragic loss of his wife, in addition to the situation which was near to collapse between the ROK and Japan, which caused him not being able to take enough food. Later it was learned that the President had nearly ten shots of Mak-girl-lee, a local brew, from relief at having been able to avoid the collapse of the relationship between the two countries, owing to the visit by Shiina. [42]

Shiina verbally promised to control the movement in Japan attempting to overthrow the ROK government, which saved the ROK-Japan crisis. Shiina sent a letter to President Park for the one year anniversary of the death of the First Lady and did not fail to do the same until the third anniversary. However, Shiina could not keep his promise.

Shiina's third visit to the ROK was ten years after the normalization of the relations. He often said, "I would like to travel at my leisure in Korea someday." It might be that he wanted to make an historical evaluation of the normalization of the relationship between the two countries after experiencing the "Miracle of Han River." However, his physical strength had declined so much that he had difficulty even walking.

Shiina left Japan for his last trip on Nov. 22, 1977. He made an official visit to President Park. When Shiina's car arrived at the Chong-Hwa-Dai, Park was waiting for Shiina and opened the car door himself for him. On the way back to the car, Park came close to Shiina and helped him get into the car, which looked as if Park was holding Shiina in his arms. Park's treatment of Shiina was exceptionally special.[43] Shiina died two years later on September 30, 1979 at the age of 81. President Park also died on October 26 in the same year. He was assassinated by a person close to him. Thus, two persons who played key roles for the normalization of the two countries left this world by the end of the 70's.


[1] "A Record: Etsusaburo Shiina. Vol. 2," p. 96. Statement by Mr. Toshikazu Maeda (later Ambassador to the ROK). Maeda, as a young diplomat, made a contribution to the conclusion of the Japan-ROK Normalization Treaty.

[2] Ibid., p. 12.

[3] Ibid., p. 15. Lines are from the 1976 textbook for junior high school.

[4] Ibid., p. 15. The statement by Yuk Ihn Soo.

[5] Kotani, Hidejiro and Kim Sook Ya, "The ROK in Danger: A Re-Evaluation of Park Chung Hee and Kim Chung Pil," p. 164. It took two journalists four years to complete this book, which was published at the same time in both Japan and the ROK in 1997. According to Kotani's afterword in the Japanese book, the Korean edition is one and half times as thick as the Japanese one since the Japanese version did not include all the episodes and all the chapters in the original manuscript.

[6] "A Record", p. 26.

[7] Wong, Lee Tong, The Secret Story of the Japan-ROK Treaty: The Fated Encounter of Two Diplomats. p. 34.

[8] Ibid., p. 33.

[9] Kotani and Kim "The ROK in Danger," p. 165.

[10] Ibid., p. 168.

[11] The details of the talk are from Ibid., pp. 169-174.

[12] "A Record", p.4.

[13] Wong, Lee Tong, The Secret Story of the Japan-ROK Treaty: The Fated Encounter of Two Diplomats. p. 69. Lee Tong Wong and Shiina became life-long friends through the negotiation to the Japan-ROK Normalization Treaty issued in 1965. The episode seems to be based on what Lee heard directly from Shiina. There is no mention in his own biography of what Ikeda had told Shiina.

[14] "A Record", pp. 33-34. An episode given by Lee Tong Wong.

[15] Wong, "The Secret Story," pp. 44-45.

[16] Ibid., pp. 69-70.

[17] "A Record", p. 64. Stated by Lee Tong Wong.

[18] Ibid., p. 69-70. Stated by Lee Tong Wong.

[19] Wong, "The Secret Story," p. 64.

[20] "A Record", p.72. Stated by Lee Tong Wong.

[21] Wong, "The Secret Story," p. 65.

[22] Ibid., pp. 66-67.

[23] "A Record", p. 67. Stated by Seiichi Omori who was Shiina's secretary at the time in 1965 and traveled to the ROK with Shiina.

[24] Wong, "The Secret Story," pp. 72-73.

[25] Ibid., pp. 76-79.

[26] Ibid., p. 81.

[27] Ibid., pp. 82-85.

[28] "A Record", p. 73. Stated by Lee Tong Wong. An episode is introduced in the book: "The President suddenly stood up and said nervously, 'Do whatever you like.'" "Nervously" and "headache" are key words.

[29] Wong, "The Secret Story," p. 88. Lee Tong Wong stated also, "The President looked gloomy. He kept silent for a while and suddenly stood up and said, 'Director Lee, you are in charge. Do whatever you like. I will be gone for a break.' Then, he left the room in hurry." The nuance in this statement is slightly different from the one in A Record: Etsusaburo Shiina.

[30] Ibid., pp. 92-93.

[31] "A Record", p. 56.

[32] Ibid., p. 110. Stated by Torajiro Ushiroku at the memorial round-table talk.

[33] "A Record", p. 56.

[34] Wong, "The Secret Story," p. 96.

[35] "A Record", p. 59. Stated by Maeda at the memorial round-table talk.

[36] Ibid., p. 57. According to the description by Lee Tong Wong written on page 75, President Park had not shown his anxiety that he was waiting for a call, but, in fact, he was waiting until midnight. There is Lee's statement, "The President asked me to read the draft and so I did." However, according to the statement which appears in Wong, "The Secret Story," p. 96, it was Lee Hoo Pak, the head in the Office of the Secretariat, who answered the phone from Lee that evening. This indicates that President Park had gone to bed before the call. Lee Hoo Pak was very pleased to hear from Lee Tong Wong and said, "The President was really concerned until late tonight. He will be pleased to know the report."

[37] Ibid., pp. 59-60. Stated by Maeda.

[38] Ibid., p. 62. Memory by Shiina. The initial signing was held at 10:30 on February 20, 1965. The Japanese anthem was played in the ROK for the first time.

[39] Ibid., pp. 84-88. Statement by Kensuke Yanatani.

[40] Ibid., p. 88. Statements by people who were introduced by Maeda.

[41] Ibid., pp. 213-214.

[42] Ibid., P. 217.

[43] Ibid., p. 220.

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