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[Editorial] Were Ambassadors to Japan and Russia Justly Replaced?

[Editorial] Were Ambassadors to Japan and Russia Justly Replaced?

Posted December. 31, 2001 09:22,   


People are raising suspicions on the government`s plan for replacing the ambassadors to Japan and Russia before their official terms end. Since the ambassadors to Japan and Russia should play a crucial role as two axes of diplomatic relations with four major countries, the positions require of competent and experienced persons. Considering the worsened Korea-Japan relationship since the conflict over Japanese history textbook and the Korea-Russia relationship which became more important since the inter-Korean relationship was frozen, the ambassadors with diplomatic excellency are needed.

From such a perspective, it would be difficult to understand why the government determined to replace Choi Sang-Ryong Ambassador to Japan for Jo Se-Hyung, standing advisor of the New Millennium Democratic Party, with the term of current ambassador remained. The government has maintained that Ambassador Choi has failed to properly deal with the impending issues such as the history textbook, the expansion of suffrage of Korean residents living in Japan, and the establishment of a unified bank by Korean residents living in Japan. However, we think that it would be hard to expect Advisor Jo to fulfill the job better than Ambassador who has been known to be well-informed about Japan in the academic circles, because Mr. Jo is a leading figure in the political circles, but he is not an diplomatic expert. As a core figure of the ruling party, Jo expected that he would take a crucial position such as the chairperson of the World Cup Organizing Committee. Therefore, we cannot but express the anxiety that the government made a decision based on just a political consideration rather than the diplomatic necessity.

The early replacement of the ambassador to Russia is also a pitiful retaliation if the assertion of the Grand National Party (GNP) is based on truth. The GNP maintained that the government made a retaliatory decision to replace Ambassador Lee Jae-Choon because of his excessive hospitality toward GNP President Lee Hoi-Chang who visited to Russia last month.

The president is able to change the ambassador and consuls irrespective of their official terms, if they fail to fulfill their responsibilities or they commit a crucial mistake. However, if the government would make a decision on the crucial positions such as ambassadors to Japan and Russia based on the political consideration or retaliatory measure, people would not accept such an unjust decision. President Kim Dae-Jung coincidently ordered to appoint the governmental officers based on the ability, reformative character, and transparency, excluding the regional or academic connection. The government`s decision to replace ambassadors to Japan and Russia is contradictory to President`s standard for fair personnel appointment. Who will believe the president`s order for fair personnel appointment? Trust cannot be built based on the empty avowal without the actual practice.