Go to contents

[Editorial] National Interest Should Come First in Seoul-Tokyo Summit

[Editorial] National Interest Should Come First in Seoul-Tokyo Summit

Posted June. 04, 2003 22:36,   


President Roh is expected to visit Japan. Then, Japan will become the second country Roh visits since taking office. It is a good choice. Japan has become a major neighbor and ally of us. Hence, improving relationship with Japan may serve as a good base for enhancing diplomatic ability of the Roh administration. In this context, the Roh`s visit to Japan, we hope, would bring in not ostentatious, but practical results for both of countries.

In fact, quite a number of agendas are on the summit table for the two leaders, or President Roh and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. First, the two leaders should complete the last stage of the "North Korean nuclear crisis" solution that was prepared during a series of summit talks between South Korea and the Untied States, and the United States and Japan. Above all, both countries should publicly make it clear that they would not tolerate North Korea`s armament with nuclear weapons. Getting the isolated regime in North Korea to give up its nuclear ambition cannot be achievable without solid cooperation and alliance between the two countries. It will be also helpful to us to share what Prime Minister Koizumi experienced in the North-Japan summit and the G8 summit.

The two leaders are expected to discuss issues like a free trade agreement and exemption of the visa requirement for Koreans. Advance in those areas will serve as barometer of the practical development in two countries` relationship. Expansion of human and material exchange is the shortcut to making the two countries real neighbors to each other.

Also important is the restoration of the mutual trust between the two nations. Not long before, a Japanese official made comments advocating the Japanese Imperial past. Later, the Japanese government and the official himself apologized, putting the dispute behind. But the emotions of South Koreans are still simmering over the episode. It is also heard that Japan is likely to pass a bill into law during President Roh`s visit, which will authorize the Japanese government to peremptorily strike a country that poses a considerable threat to it. In substance, it is an internal affair. If necessary, however, we should do something to prevent Japan from further turning rightist and, thereby, the mutual relationship from getting soured.

President Roh plans to hold a town hall meeting, during his visit to Japan, with Japanese citizens. There are some concerns over it. Still, it is a fresh approach to the problems bothering the two countries. In addition, despite the severe opposition by some South Koreans, he accepted a proposal of meeting with the Japanese Emperor on Korean Memorial Day. President Roh has proposed positive and unprecedented gestures of harmony toward Japan. Now, the ball is in the Japanese court. We expect some equally positive responses from them. That way, we hope, we get to no longer define Japan as close but distant country.