Japanese Tenno’s Title in Korea
: Relation between Social Trauma on History and Far-East Discords
As people see in Comfort women issue, historical matters are extremely sensitive issue in East Asia. Whether the speaker is professor or not, they can be accused to be imprisoned in their own house before discussion. This example is Professor Park Yuha’s current situation. She is saying “I have wanted that suggestion -Her disputatious book(<The Comfort Women of Imperial>제국의 위안부) is not a problem that can be judged in the court, but in the discussion in the school.-to be from long time ago, sincerely. …… But Jeondaehyoep, Council for countermeasure of comfort women issue, any other researchers and activists never contacted me for 2 years after August 2013, when I published this book. But I have suffered by ‘public opinion’s court’(여론재판) and civil trial, and prosecutor’s investigation for one and half year.”
Comfort women issue is related with compensation, so this could be sensitive, but this type of strain is also common with name or title. Recently, there was the other issue, too. It was about ‘why a calender from Kyungsangnamdo province office for naturalized civilians write Japanese Tenno’s birthday as Cheonhwang’s(천황天皇) birthday, not Japanese King’s(일왕日王) birthday.Cheonhwang is Japanese Tenno’s title which is written in Chinese character ‘天皇’. ‘天皇’ is read as ‘Tenno’ in Japanese pronunciation, and ‘Cheonhwang’ in Korean pronunciation. Korea has suffered for about half century under Japanese colonization.
Japanese Tenno’s Title in Korean view
After liberation of 1945, Anti-Imperialism in form of Anti-Japanism and Nationalism was key ideology of South Korea. Even development issue is encouraged by Korean people’s inferior feeling about Japan. For example, President Pak Jung Hee said “Korean people never unite, but divide each other” “In the colonization era, Japanese people said Korean people follow only with club, and now It is certain in my mind that Korean people will be in anomie unless somebody do not fix” Japanese Meiji reform and Showa reform was his role model.
In Contemporary South Korea, calling Japanese Tenno as “Cheonhwang” is shortcut to be treated as Pro-Japan”, which has nuance of “national traitor”. This inferior feeling about Japan is working as social trauma in South Korea by reminding tragic memory of past, so people naturally evade to call “Cheonhwang” as their ancestor called in Japanese colonization. As Japanese Imperialism is upraised with Tenno’s power recovery against Shogun of Makbu by Meiji reform, calling “Cheonhwang” is a symbol of Imperialism. Because “天皇” not only means ‘Emperor’, but also combination of ‘Sky天’ and ‘Emperor皇’, this makes Japanese Tenno’s title as sacred and universal symbol, which means Japanese superiority. This is also the reason of the Humanity Declaration forced by Supreme Commander of the Allied power.
Also, ‘Emperor’ in East Asia was just for Chinese Emperor who was symbol of absolute hegemon of Confucianism. Even Japanese Tenno called as ‘Emperor’ in Japanese society, Japan was divided society geopolitically. Chinese Emperor accepted Japanese Tenno’s title‘天皇’ but, in my opinion, Japan was not in “tribute-trade system” of Sinicism so it does not mean Japan as hegemon, but ‘our of China’s business’. After 19century, this geopolitical isolation was less meaningful, and with Imperialism of era, Japanese Tenno’s ‘Emperor’ title worked as hegemonic symbol to neighbor countries. For example, only under King Sunjong’s, the last king of pre-colonial Korean regime, Japanese Tenno is called with ‘extreme’ honorific title, “Cheonhwang Pyeha천황폐하”, Pyeha means ‘his majesty’. It is because Sunjong’s era were de facto Japanese ruling. For Korean people, Japan as hegemon can be inconvenient.
Japanese Tenno’s Title in Japanese view
At first, Current western(U.S. and U.K.) people call Japanese Tenno as ‘Emperor’ which is matched with meaning of ‘天皇’. Even current Chinese government call ‘天皇’ as ‘Tianhuang天皇’. This means king’s title is just only title to the most states, not implying something serious in contemporary politics. Wakamiya Yoshibumi, Pre-editor of Asahi newspaper, says “Cheonhwang means Emperor who governing whole world, so it is obviously distinct from real world. … but just a proper noun … he does not have any political power and nobody think he rules whole world.”
Plus, In East Asia, King(王) was title for who is under Chinese hegemonic order. This means, not calling Japanese Tenno as King(王) but Emperor(皇) is symbol of Japanese independency. Chinese Emperor’s acceptance in history is one of reason. Apparently Chinese Emperor did not admit Japanese Tenno as hegemon, but more independent political actor.
In Cultural category, Japanese Tenno is on the top of religious hierarchy of Shinto, Japanese traditional religion. It is in same vein with title of Pope of Christianism. Korean call Pope as 교황(敎皇) which means “Emperor(皇) of religion(敎)”. To Japanese people, it could be nonsense that Korean people call Pope as emperor but not Tenno as Emperor. Also, religious problem can be violence to each individual.
In Japanese view, Korean sensitivity about calling “Cheonhwang” may seem like Korean problem by feeling inferior and social trauma of history. But South Korea is now developed, rich and strong country with democracy. Japan is also supporter of liberty and democracy. Japanese government and Tenno showed lots of apology and compensation even though it is not perfect and some of unsolved problem. Rather, being completely enough could be impossible goal. South Korean development and long contemporary history of cooperation shows the result of Japanese compensation in quick decision. So Japanese people can think “how long they will act posture of victim?” Nobody cannot apologize forever.
Is the traumatic problem just only victim’s problem?
By comparing both of Korean and Japanese view, I concluded that there was historic tragedy which is unforgettable, even though not calling “Cheonhwang” is not proper. If Korean people deny to call “Cheonhwang”, Korean people also need to deny to call “Emperor” to Chinese emperor. Criticizing the calendar for naturalized citizen were not for native Korean people, thus it was not respecting and helping each naturalized individual who may believe ‘Shinto’ and familiar with title “Cheonhwang” or “Tenno”. Crucially, claim in Japanese view counter many argument of Korean view, because Korea is developed and changed from the past.
Korean people are prisoned in bias of victimization. According to Park Yuha, Comfort women issue became manipulated or affected by Government understanding. Government understanding became public understanding in top-down way, so that diverse individual’s voice disappeared. She says comfort women were not one-way victim, but also one constructing military force, who sometimes feel sympathy to soldiers. Some of them is not forced to be there by pimps. Her main claim is, comfort women issue is based on each individual’s feminist issue, not ‘nation versus nation’ issue, because victim is Korean ‘Women’.
Even recent plagiarism issue of Shin Kyeongsook, a famous korean author, has brought big dispute from corruption of publishing industry’s authority to lamentable plagiarism of Japanese idea of imperialism. She plagiarized Mishima Yukio’s <Yuukoku憂国>. SeonWoojeong, Journalist of Chosun Newspaper, says the part “the body which knows pleasure”(기쁨을 아는 몸) means imperialistic idea in metaphor of sexual intercourse, but Shin Kyeongsook used that as just Sexual pleasure, he judge this as ignorant aspect of Korean publishers and authors, by using expression of “how dare”. In fact, modern Korean literature has been affected a lot from Japanese literature. Japanese modern knowledge were birth of modern far-eastern knowledge. Blood drop(혈의루), the first modern literature of South Korea, was definitely affected by Japanese literature, and the other colonial authors wrote a lots of literature in Japanese language. But this is hardly known by Korean people.
But this is not only Korean social trauma. As South Korean people is feeling not good with calling “Cheonhwang”, Japanese people and their government has similar sensitive issue. Recent ‘victor day parade’ of China is one of example. Even Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, attended but Japan did not. There were some negative concern, but eventually, diplomatic people from many state -including Europe and North America- participated. So just not attending can be understood. But after UN secretary-General’s attendance, Japan denounced it public. If Japanese people and government does not feel good for Korea about denying to call “天皇”, Japan should have not denounced it, furthermore, they should have attended. Calling “天皇” as “Cheonhwang” in Korea means understanding past as only past. In the similar way, Japan’s attending on “victor’s day parade” can be understanding past as only past, as Germany do in Europe. Murayama Domiichi’s, ex-prime minister of Japan, attendanceto the parade as ‘individual’ is under this understanding,
Japan is also not free from Korean divided status. Even though Korean division is not directly by Japan but U.S. and USSR. Current Korean division became one of most seriously complex problem in the world, which is still hard with international cooperation like six-party nuclear talks and KEDO. This is conclusion of abnormal colonial status made in Imperial era, and if South Korea as independent state, division might have not happened.
Before Japan show their dissatisfaction about victimization and expectation for strong, independent, normal state, division limit the potential power of normal state. Korean division is one of key problem for many internal political, social, economic issue that works permanently. Korea is stuck in cold war regime inter-political level, courthouse and civil society is stuck with authoritarianism under cold war ideology, Stock market wave every time North Korea make issue, and there is also high security cost. Sad history can be history only after unification, because division became each South Korean’s daily life scenery which often makes South Korean people feel abnormality as normality. I think this is why Sejima Ryujo, who is evaluated as the giant background of Japanese right wing politician, said “Korea will be united. Japan should reconsider the past history and comprehend Korean feelings so that Japan go to cooperate with Korea for unification on the liberal and democratic columns. But Japanese government refused Korea’s request “Japanese self-defense force cannot go into North Korean region without Korea’s permission. Also, Sejima Ryujo supports Japan’s conservative history book on the other hand.
Far-east Asia’s discord is not only because of historic problem. It is not only historic because it is ‘the present progressive’. This cannot be only social trauma but contemporary affairs between states, as we can see Senkaku / Diaowidiao archipelago problem and Korean unification problem. If there were not Senkaku/ Diaowidiao archipelago problem, Japan may attended ‘victor day parade’. If there were unified Korea, Korea and Japan could understand each other in better mood. Every state still have long way to solve discord, thus far-east states should be humble, especially Japan cannot show opinion that their effort is enough, rather still has long way.
Also South Korea sould not concern too much about minor problems about title of Japanese Tenno. According to my search of <Chosunwangjosillok>(Chosun dynasty’s history record), key literature of Korean history for 505 years before 20th century, there were no concern about Japanese Tenno’s title for 505years in my quick rough investigation. Here is my opinion. If “Cheonhwang” is still hard title to Korean people, how is “Tenno” title? If Korean people call Japanese Tenno as “Tenno”, that is showing Tenno is Tenno(’天皇’) to Japanese people, but it is not “Cheonhwang”, the Tenno for Korean people. What I mean is, just erasing Tenno as Chinese character ‘天皇’ but only pronunciation ‘Tenno”. Of course, if someone say this is only level of pun, I cannot deny it. Because I know real solution is humbly calling Japanese Tenno as “Cheonhwang” in open mind, like president Kim Dae Jung tried.When Kim Dae Jung declared to call Japanese Tenno as “Cheonhwang”, Tenno opened that one part of his ancestors was from Baekje, one of Korean aincient dynasty.
경향신문, [정리뉴스]학문의 자유 침해인가, 정당한 법적 처벌인가···박유하 교수의 <제국의 위안부>를 둘러싼 논란들, 2015-12-06, http://h2.khan.co.kr/201512031631051
Professor Park Yuha’s facebook timeline, 2015-12-04 https://www.facebook.com/parkyuha/posts/1240486302644948
Kookmin newspaper, 천황탄생일이라니…’ 경상남도 제작달력 시끌… 페북지기 초이스, 2015-12-17, http://m.kmib.co.kr/view.asp?arcid=0010172472&code=61121111&sid1=soc#cb
한국정신문화연구원, 장면-윤보선-박정희, p.225~234
조갑제, 네 무덤에 침을 뱉어라, 169p
한국일보, “일왕호칭 일본인에 모욕감… ‘천황’ 불러주길”, 2015-08-12 http://www.hankookilbo.com/v/1d7a3c9c860a4684a513e3afcbacc647
SBS, [칼럼] 불온한시도, 불편한사실…’제국의위안부’ 논쟁관련, 2015-12-15, http://m.news.naver.com/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=055&aid=0000358625
조선일보, [선우정칼럼] 아무리 잘 베껴도 優位일 수 없다, 2015.06.25
김정복, ＜아무리 잘 베껴도 優位 일수 없다(선우정)＞를 읽고, 2015-06-25, 개인홈페이지 ’함시 복수초
조선일보, 朴대통령, 다른 정상과 달리 ‘착석관람’…위치는 의전 따라 바뀌어, 2015-09-04, http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/09/04/2015090400347.html
조선일보, [선우정칼럼] 朴泰俊(박태준)이 본 日本, 2015-03-05, http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/03/04/2015030404648.html?Dep0=twitter&d=2015030404648
 Both faction of positive and negative researchers are showing same statement on this point.
Kyunghyang newspaper, [정리뉴스]학문의 자유 침해인가, 정당한 법적 처벌인가···박유하 교수의 <제국의 위안부>를 둘러싼 논란들, 2015-12-06, http://h2.khan.co.kr/201512031631051
 Her disputatious book, <The Comfort women of Imperial>(제국의 위안부),
I think this can be translated as “kangaroo court”, but it sounds like public opinion made by shallow journalism and major idea about comfort women. This kind of agenda is spicy enough to make people upset easily.
Park Yuha, Dear, <Researchers and Activists who feel sympathy to ‘Comfort Women’ victims and act for righteous solution(일본군 위안부 피해자들의 아픔에 깊이 공감하고,위안부문제의 정의로운 해결을 위해 활동하는 연구자와 활동가 일동)>, Park Yuha’s facebook timeline, 2015-12-04 https://www.facebook.com/parkyuha/posts/1240486302644948
This article is one of her public statement to one faction of scholars and researchers,
Kookmin newspaper, 천황탄생일이라니…’ 경상남도 제작 달력 시끌…페북지기초이스, 2015-12-17, http://m.kmib.co.kr/view.asp?arcid=0010172472&code=61121111&sid1=soc#cb
Refered 한국정신문화연구원, 장면-윤보선-박정희, p.225~234
조갑제, 네 무덤에 침을 뱉어라, 169p
 But it is interesting point that Korean people call “pro-Korea” or “pro-other state’s name” to foreign people without this nuance. Also ‘친한파’ which means “pro-Korea” sometimes changed as ‘지한파’. ‘친한파’ is meaning of ‘Korea-friendly’, but ‘지한파’ is meaning of ‘Korea-supporting’.
한국일보, “일왕 호칭 일본인에 모욕감… ‘천황’ 불러주길”, 2015-08-12 http://www.hankookilbo.com/v/1d7a3c9c860a4684a513e3afcbacc647
 <Sunjongsillok>of <Chosunwangjosillok>, National Institute of Korean History
 한국일보, “일왕 호칭 일본인에 모욕감… ‘천황’ 불러주길”, 2015-08-12 http://www.hankookilbo.com/v/1d7a3c9c860a4684a513e3afcbacc647
 SBS, [칼럼] 불온한 시도, 불편한 사실…’제국의 위안부’ 논쟁 관련, 2015-12-15, http://m.news.naver.com/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=055&aid=0000358625
조선일보, [선우정 칼럼] 아무리 잘 베껴도 優位일 수 없다, 2015.06.25
김정복, ＜아무리 잘 베껴도 優位일 수 없다(선우정)＞를 읽고, 2015-06-25, 개인홈페이지 ’함시복수초
조선일보, 朴대통령, 다른 정상과 달리 ‘착석 관람’… 위치는 의전따라 바뀌어, 2015-09-04, http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/09/04/2015090400347.html
조선일보, [선우정 칼럼] 朴泰俊(박태준)이 본 日本, 2015-03-05, http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/03/04/2015030404648.html?Dep0=twitter&d=2015030404648
한국일보, “일왕 호칭 일본인에 모욕감… ‘천황’ 불러주길”, 2015-08-12 http://www.hankookilbo.com/v/1d7a3c9c860a4684a513e3afcbacc647
But current government returned to call “Japanese King” under some of discords, for example, “Dokdo islands”