- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 2004


Although Korea and Japan are geographically close and have had cultural contact for thousands of years, the Korean population in Japan, under a million in a total population of 125 million, arrived in the last century.

Korea had been part of China’s empire for more than 250 years before it regained independence in 1895, the same year Japan took the island of Formosa (Taiwan). Control of the Korean Peninsula was sought by czarist Russia, then expanding into Asia, and Japan, which won the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.

President Roosevelt mediated between the two empires, which signed the Treaty of Portsmouth (New Hampshire), under which — among other things — Russia recognized Korea as part of Japan’s sphere of influence.

Japanese families and officials were sent to Korea to modernize it, and Koreans were brought to Japan as cheap labor. Four decades later at the close of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed at the Yalta Conference of 1945 that Soviet and American troops would jointly occupy Korea and divide it at the 38th parallel.

In 1948, the Soviet Union set up a People’s Democratic Republic in North Korea, while the United States helped create the Republic of Korea in the south.

North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, and the U.N. Security Council requested forces to restore peace. President Truman ordered the Navy and Air Force to South Korea on June 27. He approved air strikes against North Korea and dispatched ground troops three days later.

The Korean War armistice was signed July 27, 1953.

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