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Aftermath of Korean ambassador`s recall from Japan

Posted April. 11, 2001 12:49,   


With the government`s recall of Korean ambassador to Japan Choi Sang-Yong as the momentum, it is believed that the question of Japan`s distorted history textbooks has entered a new phase. A government official said that it is common practice to recall an envoy when taking a tough diplomatic stance.

On Apr. 10, government officials for the first time denied local press reports that they were taking a hardline stance on the textbook issue. Some local papers reported that the government was studying ways to obstruct Japan`s bid to become a member of the U.N. Security Council by joining forces with China. The government flatly denied such speculation but declined to elaborate.

The reason that the government so hurriedly denied the reports is that it has found that possible cooperation with China is a more sensitive issue than the obstruction of Japan`s entry into the U.N. Security Council. An official pointed out that during the screening process, the Tokyo government deleted a statement in one of the problem textbooks that the Korean peninsula was a ``lethal weapon that constantly threatens Japan,`` noting that remarks about solidarity with North Korea and China could justify the position of Japan`s right-wing organizations.

The Korean government`s dilemma is that there isn`t any surefire way to send Amb. Choi back to Japan and still make its point. Choi gave a briefing on the situation in Japan to Foreign Minister Han Seung-Soo as well as other government officials and National Assembly members.

For the government, observers said that the only option would be to repeatedly express the government`s regret over distortions in Japan`s history textbooks.

President Kim Dae-Jung may express his concerns to visiting members of the Korea-Japanese economic society on Apr. 11. But his remarks would be limited to saying that Japan should take positive steps to ensure the maintenance of future-oriented relations between the two countries.

Cheong Wa Dae once planned to allow Amb. Choi to directly report to the president on the textbook issue. But it reportedly decided to postpone such a meeting since President Kim`s involvement should be used as a last resort.

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Boo Hyung-Kwon bookum90@donga.com