Korean religious right spreads coronavirus infection


This 17 August 2020 video says about itself:

South Korea sees biggest coronavirus outbreak in five months with cases linked to church protest

South Korea reported 279 new coronavirus cases on August 16, 2020, the biggest surge since March. The new infections centred around the Sarang Jeil Church led by Reverend Jun Kwang-hoon. The controversial right-wing pastor had encouraged his followers to join an anti-government protest in defiance of a ban on rallies.

From the BBC today:

South Korea church coronavirus cluster causes alarm

South Korea is dealing with its biggest daily jump in coronavirus cases in five months – with 279 cases reported on Sunday alone.

Many have been linked to the Sarang Jeil Church, whose pastor has been a vocal critic of [‘center left’] President Moon Jae-in.

Another church, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus was identified earlier this year as South Korea’s biggest virus cluster.

The controversial group was found to be linked to more than 5,200 cases.

What do we know about the current outbreak?

South Korea reported 279 new virus cases on Sunday – the first time since March that new daily infections had surpassed 200.

An additional 197 cases were reported on Monday – marking the fourth straight day where infection numbers were in the three-digit figures.

It brings the total number of cases in the country to 15,515.

At least 312 of the new cases have been linked to the Sarang Jeil Church, according to the Seoul metropolitan government, reported Yonhap News.

“Of [Sarang Jeil’s] 4,000 churchgoers… 3,400 have been placed in quarantine and 2,000 have been screened,” said Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip in a Yonhap report.

“Of this, 312 have tested positive… a high positive rate of 16.1%.”

Mr Kim also criticised the church, saying its membership list was “inaccurate” and thus “there are difficulties in tracking down every church member”.

There has been considerable anger against the church, with more than 200,000 people signing an online petition calling for lead pastor Rev Jun Kwang-hoon to be detained, said Yonhap.

President Moon said the outbreak posed the biggest challenge to combat the virus since the cluster linked to the Shincheonji Church.

The leader of the Shincheonji Church, Lee Man-hee, was arrested earlier this month.

He is accused of hiding information about the group’s members and gatherings from contact tracers. …

What do we know about Sarang Jeil church?

Not so much is known about the Seoul-based church itself – though a lot more is known about its lead pastor Rev Jun Kwang-hoon.

The 63-year-old has for years been an outspoken government critic, and has reportedly led multiple anti-government rallies in Seoul.

On the weekend, he broke self-isolation rules by participating in a rally himself.

President Moon called out church members that had followed Mr Jun in the rally, saying they had taken part in an “unforgivable act that threatens the lives of the people”.

According to the Korean Herald, Mr Jun was heard telling his followers at a rally earlier this year that it was “patriotic to die from illness“, adding that “those who suffer from illness will be healed if they attend the rally”.

Mr Jun was charged with defamation earlier this year, after he called President Moon a spy for North Korea, reported Yonhap.

On Sunday, the Seoul city government said it would take action against Mr Jun for violating self-quarantine rules and hampering authorities’ efforts to constrain the spread of the virus.

South Korea currently limits indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 100 people.

It had been touted as a success story in dealing with Covid-19, after recording low numbers earlier this year.

It successfully used aggressive tracing and widespread testing to contain its first outbreak, but has seen persistent outbreaks in recent weeks.

Korean cult boss arrested for spreading coronavirus


This 17 September 2018 video says about itself:

Accused South Korean cult leader filmed beating her followers

Footage has emerged of a South Korean pastor beating and slapping her followers. The video also appears to show family members being encouraged to abuse each other. Pastor Shin Ok-ju led 400 of her followers from South Korea to Fiji where it is alleged she was using them to work without pay. Shin was arrested when she returned to Seoul from Fiji in August. The footage in this video was first aired by Seoul Broadcasting System’s investigative program ‘Unanswered Questions’.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

South Korean cult leader arrested for withholding information about outbreak

In South Korea, the leader of the Christian Shincheonji cult has been arrested. The 89-year-old Lee Man-hee is said to have withheld information about the outbreak in his sect in February.

The Shincheonji cult has been linked to 5,200 infections, 36 percent of all coronavirus cases in South Korea. According to the indictment, Lee refused to share information with the authorities about the 200,000 members and where they meet. This made it more difficult for health services to contain the outbreak.

Lee previously called the coronavirus “an act of the devil”, who supposedly wanted to put an end to the growth of his cult.

K-pop fans against racist politicians


This 22 June 2020 video says about itself:

K-pop fans and TikTok teens troll Trump with fake registrations for first campaign rally in months

US President Donald Trump’s first campaign rally in months took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20, 2020, but only hosted only a fraction of the number of supporters his staff expected. Some of the no-shows may have been teenagers who registered to attend the rally but stayed home. Days before the event, calls went out on social-media apps TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, asking Trump opponents who had no intention of going to the rally to sign up anyway. The message spread among teens, including many fans of Korean pop music, who have recently pivoted their networks to support political causes including the Black Lives Matter movement.

This video has been updated to change a visual element.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Trolling Trump and hashtags disruption, online protests by K-pop fans are getting louder

They claimed responsibility for the many empty seats at the Trump election meeting, made a large donation to the Black Lives Matter movement, and flooded the hashtag WhiteLivesMatter on Twitter with gif pictures of their favourite Korean pop stars to crowd out other [white supremacist] messages. K-pop fans have been making themselves heard in recent weeks. In the Netherlands, too, they went against Wilders and Johan Derksen [a Dutch racist politician and a racist soccer commentator] on social media.

The social involvement of the fans is not new, says Elmer Veldkamp, ​​anthropologist and assistant professor of Korea Studies. “That started in 2007, when the first K-pop idols called on their fans to stop buying gifts for artists, but to spend the money on donations to charities. Fans immediately took it up fanatically.”

Eg, they donate money to goals they find fit with their idols. For example, in honour of the birthday of a singer, often fondly compared to a squirrel by fans, 37 endangered red squirrels were adopted in Scotland.

But most of the time, fans imitate the donation behavior of their idols. For example, early this month, when it was announced that the band BTS donated a million dollars to the Black Lives Matter movement, the hashtag #MatchAMillion became trending on Twitter. With that, fans collected more than $ 817,000 in the first 24 hours.

“After such a donation, the fans know that the goal is supported by their idols and are going to work for it in other ways,” says K-pop expert Mai Verbij. “This is also how Dutch fans come up with their own actions on social media.”

More and more political

According to Veldkamp, ​​the actions of the K-pop fans are only now noticeable because our eyes are very focused on the USA. “But you can see fan involvement shifting towards more political goals for some time now. Eg, fans from Chile drew attention to the deaths during protests against right-wing President Piñera at the end of last year.”

Researchers already predicted that supporters would continue to use their tight online infrastructure for these kinds of political goals. In particular the fight against racism.

That goal also fits in well with the diverse fan base of K-pop, says Verbij. “Many fans have diverse cultural backgrounds or come from the LGBTQ community. They feel very committed to the fight against racism. They want to make the world a better place with their idols.” …

Fight for appreciation

K-pop has come a long way, but Asian pop is still barely played on the radio in Western countries. “The fans have been fighting for more appreciation for years and use the activism to make the music more known,” says Senders. …

South Korea

While the idols speak out clearly about certain social issues abroad, they keep quiet about many problems in South Korea. Afraid to lose sponsors and advertisers. “Eg, the subject of homosexuality is very sensitive and they do not speak out against discrimination against children of mixed parents in South Korea,” says teacher of Korea Studies Elmer Veldkamp.

In the country, the actions of the fans are therefore followed with suspicion. “For example, you see in comments in South Korean media that people are concerned about the relationship the USA and South Korea,” said Veldkamp.

He thinks the success at the Trump gathering – an initiative by US American fans – will give them a taste for more. “There is a strong infrastructure that fans can use for everything. It is a group that does not just leave and that we will hear more about.”

TIKTOK TEENS MOBILIZE AGAINST TRUMP TikTok users who are angry over Trump’s threat to ban the China-owned social platform are bombarding his campaign app with terrible reviews. Unpopularity isn’t necessarily enough for Apple to remove an app, but the reviews make for interesting reading. [HuffPost]

Korean music against Dutch racist politician Wilders


This 2017 music video is called Top 10 Girl Groups in K-Pop.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

#WildersDoesntMatter: K-pop as an online protest

The hashtag #WildersDoesntMatter is trending on Twitter today, thanks in part to a group you don’t immediately envision as a protest group: K-pop fans. What does Korean pop music have to do with activism?

The action on Twitter and other social media follows a tweet in which Geert Wilders launched the hashtag #ZwartePietMatters yesterday. Thus, the PVV leader appears to be responding to the BlackLivesMatter protests.

Wilders and his PVV party support far-right racist politicians in other countries, like Trump in the USA and Marine Le Pen in France.

Zwarte Piet is a blackface character in some Dutch Saint Nicholas celebrations, not liked by anti-racists.

The K community is more often committed to protest actions on social media. The strength lies in the closeness of the fan base, which can mobilize extremely quickly to spam the aggressive. This has happened several times in recent days.

On May 31, people massively shared K-pop videos when the Dallas police asked to send videos of “illegal activity during the protests.” The special police app was quickly taken offline due to ‘technical difficulties’.

That reminds me of when Donald Trump asked people to report ‘illegal aliens’ to the police. The site where they could be reported became overwhelmed by people reporting ‘criminal’ Martians, Venusians, Daleks, etc.

In the past few days, the fans took action again. They hijacked the hashtag #WhiteLivesMatter. Underneath, white squares were initially placed – a response [by white supremacists] to the black squares that were shared en masse to support the anti-racism protests. Soon, videos of South Korean pop bands appeared everywhere under that hashtag.

The strength of the K community lies in the enormous reach of the Korean pop groups and the fanaticism of fans of boy bands such as EXO and BTS. Between May 26 and June 1, BTS was mentioned nearly 9 million times on Twitter, EXO 1.9 million times.

But why are the K-pop fan armies so committed to the BlackLivesMatter movement? That has to do with fans worldwide understand what it is to be discriminated against, says Natasja van Knippenberg, herself a big K-pop fan. “You often run into prejudices about K-pop. That those artists supposedly cannot make good music, that they are a kind of robots. Among the K-pop fans there are many members of the LGBTQ community, who often also face discrimination.”

In 2013, there was a wedding on the occupied West Bank. The wedding guests were Palestinians. Not just any Palestinians: including Hamas supporters. Israeli soldiers heard Korean music play. They went inside. Not to shoot or arrest anyone: to dance along with the wedding guests, who welcomed them. Unfortunately, Israeli authorities punished these soldiers for that. These soldiers and these wedding guests should instead have gotten medals.

In addition, people of Asian descent, like the black population, also have to deal with racism. “You also see that some K-pop artists support the BlackLivesMatter protest, for example, by giving money to pay the bail of demonstrators arrested in the US. And disapproving tweets by Trump about the South Korean film Parasite [critical of capitalism] , which won the Oscar for best film, do not help either.”

In the Netherlands, it also plays a role that K-Pop fans are very active on social media anyway, because their life as a fan mainly takes place online.

Van Knippenberg support the playful actions on Twitter, such as the one against Wilders’ tweet. “It is important that these kinds of voicesdon’t get unanswered. And if videos of cheerful dancing Korean artists can help with that, why not?”

Bad coronavirus news from South Korea, Germany


This 11 May 2020 video says about itself:

As South Korea Reopens, New Coronavirus Cluster Traced To Nightclub Visitor | TODAY

South Korea’s closely watched effort to lift coronavirus restrictions suffered a major setback this weekend when more than 80 cases were traced back to one man who went to nightclubs without a mask. NBC’s Kelly Cobiella joins TODAY from South Korea to explain what happened and how officials are responding.

South Korea and Germany are two countries often named as examples of governments dealing better with the coronavirus pandemic than elsewhere. That is certainly true, if one compares to Donald Trump’s USA, Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Boris Johnson’s Britain.

In South Korea, there has been much more coronavirus testing than in, eg, the USA.

Though in Germany austerity had caused closing down of hospitals for financial reasons, that had happened less than in, eg, the Netherlands.

However, today there is bad news from both countries.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio:

South Korea closes schools again after virus resurgence

In South Korea, more than two hundred schools have to be closed again, just days after opening the doors again. The reason is an outbreak of the coronavirus in a distribution center west of the capital Seoul. In 24 hours, 56 people were tested positive. The authorities are concerned because the infections have been identified near a densely populated area.

As a precaution, 251 schools in the region must be closed. Hundreds of others that were still closed due to coronavirus have yet to remain closed. South Koreans are also called upon to better adhere to the distance rules.

Parks and museums in the Seoul region are closing and people are advised to avoid busy areas.

Dutch daily Het Parool reports that in Germany, the Robert Koch Institut health authority reports today 741 new coronavirus infections. While yesterday, they reported ‘only’ 353 newly infected people.

Koreans accuse religious cult of spreading coronavirus


This 2014 video is called Korean Cults – Shincheonji 신천지.

This blog paid attention to the South Korean Shincheonji religious cult before.

Their leader is 88-year-old Lee-Man-hee, about whom the organisation claims he is immortal and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

They are known for, eg, having a pseudo-peace movement. Allied to, eg, the Bahrain dictatorship, which, far from bringing peace, wages war on most of the Bahraini people who want democracy. And which stokes war in Syria and in Yemen.

Now, more Shincheonji news.

The entrance of the Shincheonji church in Daegu gets coronavirus decontamination, Associated Press photo

This Associated Press photo shows the entrance of the Shincheonji church in Daegu getting coronavirus decontamination.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Cult in the spotlight after South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak

In South Korea, all eyes are on a controversial church community. Because the number of detected coronavirus infections has more than doubled in the country in the last 24 hours, and most of it is associated with the Shincheonji church. That is an international Christian community, accused of being a cult.

229 new corona infections have been added since yesterday. This puts the total in South Korea at 433.

Nearly half of these have, according to the South Korean health authority, a direct relationship with the closed church community. But the authorities suspect that the share will increase even further. 9336 church members are kept in quarantine, more than 500 of them show symptoms.

President Moon Jae-in has called for a thorough investigation into the funeral of a prominent Shincheonji member. Because that three-day ceremony was held in the funeral parlor of Daenam Hospital in Chengdu – which is now one of two outbreak centers. Together with the nearby millions of inhabitants city of Daegu, where the church holds services.

“Also church in Wuhan”

Surprisingly, the group’s website is said to have said that a church was opened last year in Wuhan, the Chinese metropolis that is considered the center of the global outbreak. The independent Chinese news site Caixin Global writes that this information has been removed from the site. …

If it is true that there was a Shincheonji church in Wuhan, it provides an explanation of the cause of the South Korea outbreak. The health authority is investigating the ties between church members in South Korea and China. …

The church reports on social media that more than 100,000 ‘students’ have been trained. It also says that the movement has 300 centers in fifteen countries, including the Netherlands. …

Followers pray on the floor side by side on their knees. The South Korean health authorities suspect that this has contributed to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

The religious movement has been controversial for years, eg, things because of the infiltration of other churches, critics say. “They infiltrate our churches and try to lure people into their Bible studies. When they sign up for it, it is not immediately said that the lesson is part of Shincheonji”, said a documentary maker from a Christian TV station in South Korea two years ago.

Many churches in South Korea are said to have a sign with “Shincheonji not welcome” at the door.

SOUTH KOREAN VIRUS CASES SURGE The number of coronavirus deaths has risen to 2,619 worldwide. There are more than 79,000 cases globally, and 27 deaths outside mainland China. South Korea announced 231 new cases today, with the nationwide total surging past 830. Over half of those are associated with a religious group. Iran’s health ministry has confirmed 43 cases of the virus, including eight deaths. Lebanon and Israel have also reported their first cases. [CNN]

Coronavirus cases outside China are alarming, global health officials say: here.

TRUMP ASSURES THAT CORONAVIRUS IS ‘UNDER CONTROL’ President Donald Trump tweeted that the coronavirus is “very much under control” in the U.S. and that the stock market looks “very good” — on the day the market plunged 3.5% over fears about the spread of the illness, its biggest drop in two years. The World Health Organization warned all nations to prepare for a pandemic of the virus, officially labeled COVID-19. [HuffPost]

Parasite film, first ever non-USA Oscars victory


This 11 February 2020 video says about itself:

A ‘Foreign’ Film Just Made History At The Oscars

Parasite‘, a South Korean movie about inequality made history at the biggest movie award event.

TRUMP COMPLAINS ‘PARASITE’ WON BEST PICTURE Trump complained during a rambling rally in Colorado Springs about the South Korean blockbuster “Parasite” winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. “I’m looking for like … let’s get ‘Gone with the Wind,’ can we get ‘Gone with the Wind’ back, please?” Trump rambled, naming the 1939 epic that romanticizes slavery. [HuffPost]

Japanese anti-Korean xenophobe fined


This 11 December 2016 video says about itself:

Japan: Anti-Korean nationalist rally met by anti-racist counter-protesters in Tokyo

Hundreds of anti-Korean nationalists marched through central Tokyo, Sunday, to express their anti-Korean sentiment. They were seen carrying ‘Rising Sun’ flags used by the military forces of Imperial Japan during WWII and Japan’s Self Defense Forces.

The nationalists were opposed by a group of counter-protesters carrying banners reading “Tokyo against racism” and “Stop the hate and go home, racists!”

From Japan Today, 28 December 2019:

Man fined ¥300,000 for online hate speech

YOKOHAMA: A Japanese court has ordered a man to pay a fine of 300,000 yen for making derogatory remarks against a Korean resident of Japan in racist posts on Twitter.

The Kawasaki Summary Court on Friday imposed the fine after the 51-year-old man was found by prosecutors to have violated a local ordinance in Kanagawa Prefecture that bans troublesome behavior. It is the first time a criminal punishment has been imposed for hate speech under such an ordinance, the victim’s lawyer said.

“While a criminal penalty serves as a deterrent to an extent, only a small fraction of the damage has been addressed. There need to be laws to punish discrimination itself,” the lawyer, Yasuko Morooka, said during a press conference held in Tokyo.

According to the indictment, the man posted hateful remarks directed at Choi Kang I Ja, a 46-year-old resident of Kawasaki in the prefecture, on Twitter four times between June 2016 and September 2017. Choi’s lawyer said the two had never met.

The posts consisted of remarks such as “the craftiness of showing off their ethnicity pisses me off,” and “I won’t tolerate Koreans living carefree in Japan behind the shield of discrimination. I don’t recognize any of their rights.”

Police had referred the man to prosecutors for alleged intimidation. But they decided not to indict him in February.

Choi then filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors for a suspected breach of the ordinance.

Choi started being harassed online after she advocated against hate speech using her real name in March 2016. The harassment continued until police searched the man’s house in December 2017, according to Morooka.

“It has been a long three and a half years. Even though the posts were written anonymously, (the offender) was identified and he has finally been held criminally responsible,” Choi told the press conference with tears in her eyes.

Earlier this month, Kawasaki became the first municipality in Japan to pass an ordinance bill imposing criminal penalties for hate speech. The new ordinance, to enter into force on July 1, 2020, bans discriminatory language and actions against those from countries or regions other than Japan in public spaces. It makes repeat violations punishable by a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

Trump sides with anti-Korean Japanese right-wing government


This 19 June 2019 South Korean TV video says about itself:

South Korean government proposes compensation for Japan’s forced labor victims

After a 7-month review, the South Korean government now has a proposal in regards to a Supreme Court ruling on forced Korean laborers under Japanese colonial rule.

Our foreign affairs correspondent Lee Ji-won is on the phone for us.

Ji-won, tell us more.

Daeun, the government on Wednesday announced that it proposed to Japan, that the sued Japanese firms, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries should voluntarily contribute to a fund to compensate victims with the help of several unspecified Korean firms.

Korean victims of forced labor have won three court cases since last year, and the total compensation amount stands at 1-point-1-5 million U.S. dollars.

A foreign affairs official told reporters that they considered three factors, respect for judicial authority, the victims and the international regulation.

And should Japan accept this proposal, the government said it will consider accepting Tokyo’s request for diplomatic talks.

Ji-won, any reaction from Japan or the firms? And how will the Korean and Japanese firms divide the payment?

Well, soon after the announcement was made, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that Takeshi Osuga, the Foreign Press Secretary, held a press conference. He said that the proposal does not solve South Korea’s violation of international law and thus cannot be a solution.

Japan has been arguing that it’s already compensated the victims when the two sides normalized their ties back in 1965.

Japan rejects Korean fund plan to compensate forced wartime labor: here.

By Peter Symonds:

US alarmed over end to South Korea-Japan intelligence sharing

30 August 2019

The Trump administration has expressed serious concern over South Korea’s announcement last week that it will abandon its intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan which is due for renewal in November. Seoul’s decision is part of the deepening rift between Washington’s two military allies in North-East Asia over economic and strategic issues.

On Wednesday, Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top official for Asia, said the US was alarmed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in was ending the pact known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). He called on the two countries to ensure their disputes did not impact on security issues.

“The United States has repeatedly made clear to the Moon administration that this decision would have a negative effect on not only the bilateral relationship with Japan, but on US security interests and those of other friends and allies”, Schriver stated. In a thinly-veiled shot at China, he added: “I would emphasise the only winners in the Japan and Korea feud are our competitors.” …

While nominally aimed against North Korea, the GSOMIA is primarily directed against China. Japan and South Korea host large US military bases and are integral to the Pentagon’s anti-ballistic missile system aimed at neutralizing any Chinese counterattack in the event of war. The agreement was designed to facilitate the type of rapid information transfer needed in high-intensity conflict involving missile exchanges. Previously, South Korea and Japan shared intelligence with the US, which then had to pass it on. …

Tensions between South Korea and Japan have been escalating since Tokyo imposed restrictions on July 4 on the export of three key chemicals critical to South Korea’s production of semiconductors and digital displays. Japan has a virtual monopoly of one of the chemicals known as photoresist, which is crucial for many high-end electronic products. Without providing any evidence, Tokyo claimed to have security concerns about the practices of South Korean importers.

This month Japan removed South Korea from its so-called “white list” of trusted countries that are not required to apply for licences to import specified technologies from Japan. It includes more than 1,000 dual-used goods and technologies that could potentially be used in military production, but are essential for much of South Korean manufacturing. Japan again used security concerns as the pretext for its trade penalties. South Korea responded by removing Japan from its own preferential trade list.

While Tokyo has publicly denied it, the reason for its punitive measures is in retaliation for a decision by South Korea’s Supreme Court last year ordering Japanese corporations to pay damages as compensation for forced Korean labour during World War II. The Japanese government has insisted that any such claims were settled in a 1965 treaty, under which compensation was paid to the South Korean government. Seoul declares that the treaty did not preclude individual legal claims.

The governments in both countries are exploiting the tensions to whip up nationalism in an effort to shore up support at home and divide the working class.

This 2015 South Korean TV video says about itself:

Japan′s hate speech rallies against Koreans rise sharply ′혐한 구호′ 또 등장…뒷짐 진 아

Ultra-right wing groups in Japan are going all out with hate speech rallies targeting ethnic Koreans.

While local governments are calling for legal measures to stop the rallies, skeptics accuse the Shinzo Abe administration of turning a blind eye.

Hwang Sung-hee reports. Insults against Koreans fly across the streets of the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

“Let′s get rid of cockroach-like Koreans.”

“Japan should cut diplomatic ties with Korea.”

The number of hate rallies against some 500-thousand ethnic Koreans has risen sharply in Japan.

The campaigners say they cannot tolerate the privileges, such as the right to vote and access to welfare, bestowed to Korean residents.

They justify the racial discrimination as their “right to freedom of speech”.

“What I′m doing is politics. Some say politics and discrimination is different, but it′s all the same.”

It′s a serious matter that has been taken to the international stage.

In August, the United Nations′ human rights committee demanded Japan add hate speech to legislation that bans racial discrimination.

In December, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by Osaka′s high court, in the city with the largest Korean population, which ordered an ultra-right group pay a 120-thousand dollar fine for its hate-speech rally.

But the Abe administration has remained passive, saying the issue is under review.

Since the beginning of the year, 24 local governments have taken the matter into their own hands, pressuring the central government to take legal measures.

The Peter Symonds article continues:

Significantly Japan announced its first trade restrictions at the opening of the campaign for the upper house election, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for support to revise the constitution and remove restrictions on the country’s military. …

South Koreans have boycotted Japanese goods and held anti-Japanese protests in the wake of Tokyo’s trade measures, under conditions of growing restiveness and strikes by workers.

Washington is particularly concerned that the South Korean government is proceeding to tear up the intelligence-sharing agreement despite entreaties from top American officials. Stephen Biegun, US special envoy on North Korea, and Allison Hooker, director of Korea policy on the White House National Security Council, met with South Korean officials in Seoul on August 21 to urge them to maintain the pact. They were not told that the South Korean government was about to announce its withdrawal from the agreement the following day.

The Trump administration, however, set the precedent for Japan’s actions in its use of trade penalties based on so-called “national security considerations”—previously regarded as being out of bounds in international relations. It has used “national security” as the rationale for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium, and threatened Mexico with tariffs if it did not bow to US demands to halt the flow of refugees.

That the US Trump administration sides with the right-wing Abe administration in Japan in this is not so surprising. As the Trump administration prefers Adolf Hitler-loving neo-nazis to anti-fascists.

As for the Abe administration and anti-Korean racist Adolf Hitler lovers:

Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi leader Kazunari Yamada’s Facebook website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inadalater minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

TRUMP TWEETS VID WITH ‘WHITE NATIONALIST’ LOGO President Donald Trump tweeted an independently produced video touting his record that included a lion logo linked to an anti-Semitic and white nationalist site that the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as an anti-immigrant hate group. [HuffPost]

War profiteers defraud United States taxpayers


This 19 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Pentagon waste on booze and lobster revealed

Rick Sanchez breaks down the Pentagon putting your tax dollars to work: Lobster, crab, alcohol, golf carts, tubas and trombones – the list goes on! Then constitutional attorney and president of the Rutherford Institute John Whitehead joins to weigh in on the colossal waste of tax money that the US “defense” budget represents and which puts the country ever deeper in debt.

By Jay Jackson, Big News Network, 31st March 2019, 00:47 GMT+11:

Two companies confess to rigging bids on U.S. military contracts

WASHINGTON DC – Two South Korean companies on Friday pleaded guilty to rigging bids on contracts involving the U.S. military.

In a stunning development, the companies Hyundai Oilbank Co. Ltd. and S-Oil Corporation

According to Wikipedia, mainly owned by Saudi Aramco, of the murderous and warmongering Saudi Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Mohamed bin Salman.

have agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay approximately $75 million in fines for their involvement in a bid-rigging conspiracy that targeted contracts to supply fuel to the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force bases in South Korea for a period of about ten years.

In separate civil resolutions, the same companies have agreed to pay another $52 million to the United States for civil antitrust and False Claims Act violations related to the bid-rigging conspiracy.

The Criminal Case:

On Friday, the Department of Justice unsealed a three-count superseding indictment from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that was returned in September last year. According to the superseding indictment, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service are two U.S. Defense Department agencies that contract with South Korean companies to supply fuel to the numerous U.S. military bases throughout South Korea.

Count One charges Hyundai Oilbank, S-Oil, and the seven individuals with participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition during the bidding process for the fuel supply contracts.

The individuals, all residents and citizens of South Korea, are Hee-Soo Kim, Tae Ho Cho, Jiwon Kang, Young-Ho Yoon, Byung Kuk Kim, Byungik Moon, and Eul-Jin Hyung.

Count Two charges Hyundai Oilbank, S-Oil, and the seven individuals with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful function of the procurement processes for the fuel supply contracts. As part of its plea agreement with Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil, the Antitrust Division agreed to move to dismiss Count Two against the two companies upon sentencing.

Count Three charges Hee-Soo Kim with tampering with a witness by use of intimidation, threats, or corrupt persuasion, with the intent to hinder, delay, and prevent communication with a law enforcement officer of the United States.

Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil have agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation. The plea agreements are subject to court approval.

The investigation began based on a tip to the Defense Logistics Agency Inspector General (IG) Hotline. The IG office developed the information, interviewed the complainant, and then referred the case to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. …

It should be noted, an indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A criminal violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a criminal fine of $1 million for individuals and a maximum criminal fine of $100 million for corporations. The maximum fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

A criminal violation carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

Today’s pleas are the fourth and fifth respectively resulting from an ongoing federal investigation into bid rigging, price fixing, and other anticompetitive conduct targeting U.S. Department of Defense fuel supply contracts in South Korea. The criminal case is being prosecuted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section and the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio, in conjunction with the DCIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Army CID, the Defense Logistics Agency Office of the Inspector General, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

The Civil Case:

The Department’s Antitrust Division on Friday filed a civil antitrust complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and at the same time filed proposed settlements that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit against Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil for their anticompetitive conduct targeting the U.S. military in South Korea.

As a result of this conduct, the United States Department of Defense paid substantially more for fuel supply services in South Korea than it would have had Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil competed for the fuel supply contracts. The proposed settlement provides that Hyundai Oilbank pay $39.1 million and S-Oil pay $12.98 million to the United States to resolve the civil antitrust violations. In addition to the payments, Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil have agreed to cooperate with the ongoing civil investigation of the conduct and to abide by antitrust compliance program requirements.

The payments will also resolve civil claims that the United States has under the False Claims Act against the two companies for making false statements to the government in connection with their agreement not to compete. The Civil Division has entered into separate settlement agreements with the companies to resolve these claims.

Except where based on admissions by defendants in the criminal pleas, the claims resolved by the civil agreements are allegations only.

The civil settlements were handled by the Antitrust Division’s Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture Section, by the Civil Division, and by the Civil Fraud section of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio.

The United States’ civil investigation resulted from a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Those provisions allow for private parties to sue on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery.