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[Editorial] ROK-Japan Documents Should Not Turn Into Political Contention

[Editorial] ROK-Japan Documents Should Not Turn Into Political Contention

Posted January. 18, 2005 23:03,   


The aftershock of the disclosure of the Korea-Japan Agreement seems extraordinary. The call for additional compensation for the victims is now accompanied by a contention for renegotiations with Japan. Any issues related to Japan, as was always the case, are confronted with strong emotions, and the concern is that this issue may aggravate into discordance and conflicts in and out of the country.

Maltreated victims deserve due compensation. Persons involved should apologize for the hasty and humiliating negotiations made at the time. This should be taken as a lesson that consequences such as humiliation can come back to haunt a nation with double and triple agony once a nation loses its sovereignty, no matter how far back.

In any situation, however, this issue should never turn into a political point of contention. The Uri Party is already reacting to the issue, saying, “This proves the need for the investigation law into past history,” but such an approach is uncalled for. Erroneous history should be set right, but it should be dealt with individually for each case.

This should not play out as a way to generalize history as a subject to be done away with and taken to be entirely evil, focusing on what an immoral authority the government had been to initiate the eradication of rights for individual claims. Due attention should be given to the point about how we cannot use today’s yardstick to measure the realities of the time.

In that sense, organizing a special investigative committee under the National Assembly, a suggestion on a part of the Grand National Party, seems to be in order. When the ruling and opposition parties put their heads together, breaking away from partisanship, they should be able to find a solution to the issue while minimizing the impact. The issues of additional compensation and resources procurement are to be discussed in the National Assembly, anyhow. That way, the political circle should be able to save itself from the storm of civic group protests.

A Japanese expert said, “Japanese intellectuals are carefully scrutinizing what controversies arise from Korea,” when the document was disclosed. The comment is more subtle than it appears. When this issue causes a political war among the parties and creates internal conflict, it will be another embarrassment to Japan as well as to the international community. It will be like a rerun of national humiliation. The government party and the opposition party should be extra careful in approaching the issue.