Exchanging Tensions

Despite ongoing tensions between Japan and South Korea, 50,000 Japanese people attended a Korean music and arts festival in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park Sept. 21-22.

Photo: AP Photo / Shizuo Kambayashi
The site of the festival. 

The cultural exchange event included performances by artists from both countries and was attended by the South Korean ambassador to Japan, a member of Japan’s royal family and the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In his opening remarks, ambassador Lee Byung-kee admitted that bilateral relations were going through a “slightly difficult period,” which is why such cross-cultural events were more important than ever for building bridges between the two countries. In recent months, and especially since Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympics, Japanese nationalists have been stepping up demonstrations against Korean residents, demanding they be deported to South Korea even though most have lived their whole lives in Japan.