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Dutch king`s remarks on history in Japan

Posted November. 01, 2014 04:42,   


When hearing the word "The Netherlands," many things come to our mind besides a windmill or tulip. Starting from a boy in a children’s story who put his arms into a hole of the bank to prevent it from breaking down, philosopher Erasmus, painters Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt, Anne Frank, and finally the beer brand Heineken are the Dutch figures well known to us. In the Korean history, Dutch Weltevree called Park Yeon and Hamel visited Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. Two were "Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman in German)," who got lost while moving around in the sea. Last but not the least, Korean national soccer team coach Guus Hiddink is also a Dutch, who led Korean national team into the semi-final of the 2002 World Cup.

Jan Ruff O’Herne is another Dutch who we should remember. Born in Java Island, Indonesia, which was a colony of the Netherlands back then, 20-year-old O`Herne was forced to serve as a sex slave in the Japanese military camp by the Japanese soldiers who invaded the island. In 2007, the first-ever the congressional hearing on Comfort Women was held at the U.S. Congress. O`Herne testified at the hearing saying that the first experience to a woman is quite meaningful while hers was a rape, even at a military brother, and her experience as a woman in war is one of utter degradation, unspeakable.

During the state visit to Japan this week, Dutch King Willem-Alexander said to Japan`s Emperor Akihito that the memories in which his civilians and soldiers were forced to labor and our pride was hurt are still left in the lives of many people. He emphasized that the two nations should inherit both the proud history and painful history. What the king mentioned was the pain that Dutch people had suffered by the Japanese military when the army invaded Indonesia during World War II. The most severely-afflicted ones would be Dutch women, like O`Herne.

The Netherlands delivered modern civilization to Japan 400 years ago. To Japanese, Dutch people are like the first Western tutors. Remarks by the Dutch king mean that the painful history can be overcome only when people face and remember it, rather than burying it in oblivion. Anne Frank was not a Dutch. She was a daughter of a Jewish family who crossed the border from Germany to the Netherlands to avoid persecution, but finally was caught and sacrificed by the Nazi. The Netherlands, which was amicable to the Nazi at that time, has taken this as great humiliation. The Netherlands, which knows humiliation, has made a disciplinary comment to Japan that knows no humiliation.