South Korea's Moon torn by 'split personality' when it comes to Japan
Nikkei -- Aug 26
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has two public personas when it comes to dealing with Japan: the statesman and the activist.

In his address marking South Korea's Liberation Day on Aug. 15, which celebrates the end of Japanese colonial rule on the peninsula, Moon avoided stirring up nationalistic, anti-Japanese sentiment. One line in particular stood out. "If Japan chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands," he said.

But Moon's basic policy toward Japan remains unchanged. This was clearly reflected in his government's decision on Thursday to discontinue an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement.

During my most recent stint in Seoul, which lasted from April 2015 to until March 2018, I had an opportunity to meet Moon soon after his inauguration. He impressed me with his friendly demeanor and gentlemanly behavior. He did not seem to be lying when he said he wanted to repair South Korea's strained relationship with Japan.

On such occasions, Moon behaves as head of state -- the person formally representing his country.

But his colors can change surprisingly quickly. When he discusses issues related to the troubled history between South Korea and Japan, he takes on the persona of a student activist turned left-leaning politician. In this guise, he is quick to heap criticism on Japan.

News source: Nikkei
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